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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

The name Dewey was carried to England in the enormous movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Dewey family lived in Devon. This family was originally from Douai, near Lille, Normandy, and it is from this location that their surname derives.


The surname Dewey was first found in Devon where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Dewey, Dewy, Dewye and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dewey research. Another 173 words (12 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dewey History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


More information is included under the topic Early Dewey Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Dewey or a variant listed above:

Dewey Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Thomas Dewey, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1631
  • Elizabeth Dewey, who arrived in Maryland in 1675-1680
  • Jonathan Dewey, who arrived in Westfield, Massachusetts in 1689

Dewey Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • George Dewey who settled in Bristol Rhode Island in 1820
  • Henry Dewey, who arrived in New York in 1835
  • S L Dewey, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • O H Dewey, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • J Dewey, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • ...

Dewey Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Chris Dewey, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1760

Dewey Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Benedick Dewey, who arrived in Canada in 1836

  • Charles S. Dewey (1880-1980), American politician, U.S. Representative from Illinois
  • Charles Melville Dewey (1849-1937), American painter
  • John Dewey, American teacher, philosopher, and educational reformer, he advocated "learning by doing"
  • George Dewey (1837-1971), American naval officer who attained fame in the Spanish-American War, also referred to as Commodore Dewey, eponym of the USS Dewey (DDG-105) and USS Dewey (DD-349)
  • Melvil Dewey (1851-1931), American librarian, inventor of the Dewey Decimal Classification system for library classification
  • Thomas Edmund Dewey (1902-1971), Governor of New York and unsuccessful candidate for President of the United States
  • Charles Almon Dewey (1877-1958), United States federal judge in Iowa's southern district

Dewey Historic Events

HMS Hood

  • Mr. Edward D G Dewey (b. 1923), English Boy 1st Class serving for the Royal Navy from Basingstoke, Hampshire, England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Hood and died on 24th May 1941 in the sinking

  • Families of Dr. Charles Carroll, 1691-1755, and Cornet Thomas Dewey, 160?-1648 by Douglas Carroll.

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    Other References

    1. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
    2. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
    3. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
    4. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    5. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    6. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
    7. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
    8. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
    9. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
    10. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
    11. ...

    The Dewey Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Dewey Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

    This page was last modified on 16 February 2016 at 06:39.

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