Show ContentsDarnell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Darnell name was originally an Anglo-Saxon name that was given to a grower of darnel, a plant believed to induce intoxication. The name's origins are Old French; darnel is the French name for this plant. It was brought into England by the Normans after the Norman Conquest of 1066. [1]

Occupational names frequently were derived from the principal object associated with the activity of the original bearer, such as tools or products. These types of occupational surnames are called metonymic surnames.

Occasionally the name was local; there is a Darnall in Yorkshire, and a small group of people took their name from that location. [2]

Early Origins of the Darnell family

The surname Darnell was first found in the West Riding of Yorkshire at Darnell, a hamlet, in the parish and union of Sheffield, S. division of the wapentake of Strafforth and Tickhill. Darnhall is a township in Cheshire, 6 miles from Middlewich and this township may also be the origin of the name. [3]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed Agnes Darnel, Suffolk; Henry Darnel, Cambridgeshire; and William Darnel, Huntingdonshire. Later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included Thomas Darnal and Roger Dernele as holding lands there at that time. [4]

However, we must look to the aforementioned Suffolk to find the first record of the family; for it is there that Goduine Dernel was listed c. 1095. Later, Godwin Darnel was also listed there in 1177. Tomas Darnele was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk in 1193. [1]

Early History of the Darnell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Darnell research. Another 122 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1095, 1177, 1193, 1379, 1638, 1604, 1645, 1711, 1605, 1675, 1683, 1689, 1706, 1672, 1735 and 1710 are included under the topic Early Darnell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Darnell Spelling Variations

Only recently has spelling become standardized in the English language. As the English language evolved in the Middle Ages, the spelling of names changed also. The name Darnell has undergone many spelling variations, including Darnell, Darnall, Darnoll, Darnel, Darnal, Darnol, Darnhill, Dartnall, Dartnell and many more.

Early Notables of the Darnell family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Sir Thomas Darnell, 1st Baronet (died c. 1638), an English landowner, at the centre of a celebrated state legal case in the reign of Charles I of England, often known as the "Five Knights' Case" but to the lawyers of the period as "Darnell's Case." Philip Darnall (born 1604), was an English barrister; and his son, Colonel Henry Darnall (1645-1711), emigrated to North America to become a wealthy Maryland Roman Catholic planter, 3rd Baron Baltimore...
Another 82 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Darnell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Darnell Ranking

In the United States, the name Darnell is the 1,600th most popular surname with an estimated 19,896 people with that name. [5]

United States Darnell migration to the United States +

To escape the unstable social climate in England of this time, many families boarded ships for the New World with the hope of finding land, opportunity, and greater religious and political freedom. Although the voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, those families that arrived often found greater opportunities and freedoms than they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Darnell were among those contributors:

Darnell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mary Darnell, who arrived in Virginia in 1663 [6]
  • Richard Darnell, who landed in Maryland in 1674 [6]
  • Thomas Darnell, aged 26, who arrived in Maryland in 1684 [6]
Darnell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Darnell, who settled in Annapolis Maryland in 1758
Darnell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Rachel Darnell, who arrived in New York State in 1820
  • Mr. & Mrs. H. Darnell who arrived in San Francisco California with 2 children in 1856
  • Ellen M. Darnell, aged 18, who immigrated to America, in 1893
  • C.G. Darnell, aged 37, who landed in America, in 1894
  • C. G. Darnell, aged 38, who immigrated to America, in 1895
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Darnell Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Chas. G. Darnell, who immigrated to the United States, in 1904
  • R. J Darnell, who landed in America, in 1904
  • John Darnell, aged 48, who landed in America from Chatterton England, in 1907
  • Edward Darnell, who settled in America, in 1907
  • Elizabeth Darnell, who immigrated to the United States, in 1907
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Darnell (post 1700) +

  • Riley C. Darnell (1940-2020), American politician, Tennessee Secretary of State from 1993 to 2009
  • Nicholas Henry Darnell (1807-1885), Texan legislator and soldier
  • Linda Darnell (1921-1965), American movie actress
  • Gary Darnell (b. 1948), former American college football player and coach
  • James E. Darnell (b. 1930), American biologist, recipient of the 2002 National Medal of Science
  • Eric Darnell (b. 1960), American film director, writer, voice actor, songwriter, and animator
  • Mike Darnell (b. 1962), American television executive
  • Larry Darnell (1928-1983), American singer
  • Jean Darnell (1889-1961), American silent film actress
  • Erik Darnell (b. 1982), American stock car racing driver
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Dorsetshire
  • Horace Wilfred Darnell (d. 1945), British Supply Assistant aboard the HMS Dorsetshire when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he died in the sinking [7]
HMS Royal Oak
  • George Thomas Darnell (1922-1939), British Boy 1st Class with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak (1939) when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [8]

The Darnell Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Deus nobiscum
Motto Translation: God be with us.

Suggested Readings for the name Darnell +

  • Darnall (also Darnell), Spence, Steers, Spangler, Stuckey, Sill, and Brief Accounts of Families Into Which Some Members Married by Erma Dessie Stuckey.

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  3. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th),
  8. Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from on Facebook