Show ContentsDon History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Don family

The surname Don was first found in Cheshire at Duddon, a township, in the parish of Tarvin, union of Great Boughton, Second division of the hundred of Eddisbury.

"The manor was for many generations in moieties between the families of Bruen and Done; the first passed, with Bruen-Stapleford, to Mr. Wilbraham, and the other with the Utkinton estate to Mr. Arden. Duddon Hall, which continued to be the seat of a younger branch of the Dones long after the extinction of the elder branch, is now a farmhouse." 1

However, one of the first records of the family was John de Donne, rector of the church of St. Elphin, Warrington, Lancashire from 1361 to 1362. 2

John Donne (1572-1631), the famous English poet and cleric was born in London into a recusant Roman Catholic family when practice of that religion was illegal in England. His father was of Welsh descent and a warden of the Ironmongers Company in the City of London. Young John studied at the University of Cambridge, but was unable to obtain a degree because of his Catholicism. Despite these challenges, he rose to become one of the most important poets of his era and had to write anti-Catholic polemics to do so. Eventually he was awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity from Cambridge University.

Early History of the Don family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Don research. Another 242 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1420, 1503, 1527, 1552, 1558, 1572, 1604, 1614, 1617, 1621, 1631, 1662 and 1821 are included under the topic Early Don History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Don Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Don include Done, Donn, Donne, Doan, Doane, Doune and others.

Early Notables of the Don family

Notables of this surname at this time include:

  • Sir John Donne (c.1420-1503), a Welsh courtier, diplomat and soldier, a notable figure of the Yorkist party; and Sir Charles Doune of Doune
  • Gabriel Donne or Dunne (d. 1558), was a Cistercian monk who belonged to the family of that name seated at Ralph Donue in Devonshire. 3
  • John Donne the Elder (1572-1631), was an English poet, satirist, lawyer and a cleric in the Church of England. Born in London, he was Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London (1621-1631.) His poems survi...
  • Sir Daniel Donne or Dunn (d. 1617), was an Welsh civilian, descended from John Dwnn of Radnorshire, was educated at Oxford

Don Ranking

In the United States, the name Don is the 12,650th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 4

United States Don migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Don or a variant listed above:

Don Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Grace Don, who arrived in Virginia in 1697 5
Don Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • George Don, who landed in Virginia in 1714 5
  • Catherine Don, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1753 5
  • Alexander Don, who landed in New York in 1795 5
Don Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Henry Don, aged 25, who landed in New York in 1800 5

Australia Don migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Don Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Don, English convict who was convicted in Clerkenwell, London, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Equestrian" on 27th August 1852, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Island) 6
  • Helen Don, aged 21, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Europa" 7
  • James Don, aged 20, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Monsoon"

New Zealand Don migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Don Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Don, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Jura" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 23rd September 1858 8
  • Mr. William Don, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Jura" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 23rd September 1858 8
  • David Don, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ada" in 1875

Contemporary Notables of the name Don (post 1700) +

  • Sarah Don, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1972
  • Frank M. Don, American politician, Representative from Connecticut 4th District, 2000
  • Sir William Henry Don (1825-1862), Scottish actor, born on 4 May 1825, son of Sir Alexander Don, sixth Baronet of Newtondon, Berwickshire 9
  • George Don (1798-1856), Scottish botanist, born at Doo Hillock, Forfarshire, in 1798, the eldest son of George Don
  • Sir George Don (1754-1832), Scottish general, younger son of Sir Alexander Don, bart., the third baronet of Newton, Berwickshire
  • David Don (1800-1841), Scottish botanist, born at Doo Hillock, Forfarshire, 21 Dec. 1800 9
  • Mr. Montagu Denis Wyatt Don O.B.E., British Horticulturalist, Writer and Broadcaster, was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire on 8th June 2018, for services to Horticulture, to Broadcasting and to charity 10
  • Jerold Don Ottley (1934-2021), American conductor and music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir from 1974 to 1999
  • Billie Don Payne, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Texas, 2000, 2004 (alternate) 11
  • John Don Looney (1917-2015), American professional football end who played three seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles (1940) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (1941-1942)

The Don 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: Omnia mei dona Dei
Motto Translation: All my goods are the gift of God.

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. 'Townships: Scarisbrick', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3, ed. William Farrer and J Brownbill (London, 1907), pp. 265-276. British History Online [accessed 21 January 2017].
  3. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. 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)
  6. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th May 2022).
  7. South Australian Register Monday 14th May 1855. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Europa 1855. Retrieved
  8. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  9. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020
  10. "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018,
  11. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 29) . Retrieved from on Facebook