Dolphin History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Strongbownians added their own naming traditions to the eastern region of Ireland to which they arrived. The impact of this new tradition was not extremely disruptive to the pre-existing Irish tradition because the two had many similarities. Both cultures made significant use of hereditary surnames. And like the Irish, the Strongbownians often used prefixes to build patronymic surnames, which are names based on the given name of the initial bearer's father or another older relative. Strongbow's followers often created names that were built with the prefix Fitz-, which was derived from the French word fils, and ultimately from the Latin filius, both of which mean son. They also used diminutive suffixes such as -ot, -et, -un, -in, or -el, and occasionally even two suffixes combined to form a double diminutive such as -el-in, -el-ot, -in-ot, and -et-in, to build patronymic names. The surname Dolphin is derived from the Old Norse personal names Dufan and Dólgfinnr. Many Scandinavian personal names were left in the British Isles as a legacy of the Viking raids which plagued the coastal regions of Britain from the 8th to 10th centuries, and many of these eventually became surnames. In Gaelic, the name was Doilfin.

Early Origins of the Dolphin family

The surname Dolphin was first found in Cumberland at Dovenby, a township, in the parish of Bridekirk, union of Cockermouth, Allerdale ward below Derwent. "This place was called also Dolphinsby, from Dolphin, son of Alward, whose descendants were seated here till the reign of Henry III." [1]

Early History of the Dolphin family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dolphin research. Another 201 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1068, 1193 and 1606 are included under the topic Early Dolphin History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dolphin Spelling Variations

It was found during an investigation of the origins of the name Dolphin that church officials and medieval scribes often spelled the name as it sounded. This practice lead to a single person's being documented under many spelling variations. The name Dolphin has existed in the various shapes: Dolphin, Dolfin, Dalphin, Daulphin, Daulphine, Dolphine, Dolfine and many more.

Early Notables of the Dolphin family (pre 1700)

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


United States Dolphin migration to the United States +

In the 1840s, Ireland experienced a mass exodus to North America due to the Great Potato Famine. These families wanted to escape from hunger and disease that was ravaging their homeland. With the promise of work, freedom and land overseas, the Irish looked upon British North America and the United States as a means of hope and prosperity. Those that survived the journey were able to achieve this through much hard work and perseverance. Early immigration and passenger lists revealed many bearing the name Dolphin:

Dolphin Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Richard Dolphin, who settled in Virginia in 1618
  • Christopher Dolphin, who arrived in Maryland in 1657 [2]
Dolphin Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Frances Dolphin, aged 20, who settled in America, in 1895
Dolphin Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Edward Francis Dolphin, who immigrated to the United States, in 1903
  • Douglas Dolphin, aged 1, who immigrated to America from London, in 1904
  • Alice Dolphin, aged 35, who immigrated to the United States from London, in 1904
  • Annie Dolphin, aged 19, who settled in America from Dromore, Ireland, in 1914
  • Herbert J. Dolphin, aged 19, who immigrated to the United States, in 1918
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Dolphin migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Dolphin Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Charles Dolphin, aged 26, who immigrated to Montreal, Canada, in 1914

Contemporary Notables of the name Dolphin (post 1700) +

  • Frank Dolphin, Irish businessman, founder of RigneyDolphin Ltd, former chairman of Children's University Hospital, Temple Street
  • John Robert Vernon Dolphin CBE (1905-1973), British engineer and inventor, Commanding Officer of the top secret Second World War Special Operations Executive (SOE)
  • James "Fish" Dolphin (b. 1983), New Zealand sprinter at the 2006 Commonwealth Games
  • David H. Dolphin OC, FRS, FRSC (b. 1940), Canadian biochemist
  • Bill Dolphin (b. 1881), Australian rules footballer
  • Arthur Dolphin (1885-1942), English first-class cricketer
  • Albert George Dolphin GC (d. 1940), posthumously awarded the George Cross for the heroism he displayed on the September 7, 1940
  • Rear Admiral George VM Dolphin,
  • Dolphin Stevenson, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Ontario County 1st District, 1849 [3]

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Leonard Stanley Dolphin, British Stoker 1st Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and died in the sinking [4]
RMS Lusitania
  • Miss Avis Gertrude Dolphin, Canadian 2nd Class passenger from St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking by escaping in life boat 17 [5]


The Dolphin 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: Firmum in vita nihil
Motto Translation: Nothing in life is permanent.


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 25) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  4. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  5. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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