Show ContentsDearth History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname Dearth emerged among the industrious people of Flanders, which was an important trading partner and political ally of Britain during the Middle Ages. As a result of the frequent commercial intercourse between the Flemish and English nations, many Flemish migrants settled in Britain. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. The manner in which hereditary surnames arose is interesting. Local surnames are derived from where the original bearer lived, was born, or held land. Flemish surnames of this type frequently are prefixed by de la or de le, which mean of the or from the. The Dearth family originally lived in the town of Ath in Belgium. There it would have been rendered D'Ath, or De Ath, meaning from Ath. 1 2 3

It was also occasionally an occupational name for a gatherer or seller of kindling. In this case, the name is derived from the Old English word dethe, which in turn is derived from the Old English word dyth, which means fuel or tinder. 4

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.

"'Death' was a common character in the medieval mysteries or miracle plays: but this surname is probably derived from a local source." 5

Early Origins of the Dearth family

The surname Dearth was first found in Kent at Knowlton and North Cray, where the family held lands since ancient times. However, earlier records of the family were found scattered through Britain including: Robert Deth who was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Bedfordshire in 1196; Roger Deth, who was listed in Cheshire in 1221; and Gilbert Deth who was listed in the Assize Rolls of Somerset in 1272. 4

This author postulates that while the Belgium origin is clearly possible, the name was scattered and accordingly could have also have been derived from the occupation, rather than just as a local surname.

"Properly D'Aeth, still an English name, and said to be from Aeth, in Flanders. This may refer to Ath, a fortified town of Belgium, prov. Hainault. The name D'ath is found in the U.S. There is a surgeon and also an undertaker named Death. "At the Liverpool Police-court, on Friday, the witnesses and solicitor in two cases bore the ominous names of Death, Debt, and Daggers" (Morning Star). One family of the name of H. E. Death, having an objection to the name, changed it to Edeath. The U.S. names Date and Datt and the English name Dates may be derived from Death, D'Aeth, or D'Ath." 2

Early History of the Dearth family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dearth research. Another 73 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1678, 1707, 1708, 1745, 1750, 1773, 1808 and 1904 are included under the topic Early Dearth History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dearth Spelling Variations

Flemish surnames are characterized by a large number of spelling variations. One reason for this is that medieval English lacked definite spelling rules. The spellings of surnames were also influenced by the official court languages, which were French and Latin. Names were rarely spelled consistently in medieval times. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to specific spelling rules, and people often had their names registered in several different forms throughout their lives. One of the greatest reasons for change is the linguistic uniqueness of the Flemish settlers in England, who spoke a language closely related to Dutch. The pronunciation and spelling of Flemish names were often altered to suit the tastes of English-speaking people. In many cases, the first, final, or middle syllables of surnames were eliminated. The name has been spelled Daeth, D'Aeth, D'Eath, Death, Darth, Dath and others.

Early Notables of the Dearth family

Prominent in the family at this time was Sir Thomas D'Aeth, 1st Baronet (1678-1745) of Knowlton in the County of Kent. He married Elizabeth Narborough, daughter of Rear-Admiral Sir John Narborough. Sir John along with his two Narborough stepsons died at sea in the Scilly naval disaster of 1707. His flagship, HMS Association, and three other ships were lost, claiming the lives of nearly 2,000 sailors. Knowlton Church has a memorial to...
Another 72 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dearth Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dearth Ranking

In the United States, the name Dearth is the 12,073rd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 6

United States Dearth migration to the United States +

Amongst the settlers in North America with this distinguished name Dearth were

Dearth Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Andrew Dearth, who arrived in Maryland in 1677 7

Contemporary Notables of the name Dearth (post 1700) +

  • James Dearth (b. 1976), former American football long snapper
  • William A. Dearth, American politician, Mayor of Parsons, Kansas, 1954 8
  • Freeman Daniel Dearth (b. 1861), American Republican politician, Member of Maine State Senate 10th District, 1919-20 8

  1. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  3. Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  6. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  7. 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)
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 1) . Retrieved from on Facebook