Donay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Donay surname is a habitational name, taken on from Downhead in Somerset, or Donhead in Wiltshire. These place names both derived from the Old English words "dun," meaning "hill," and "he-afod," meaning the geographic "head" of land. There was also a place so named in Caithness, Scotland.

Early Origins of the Donay family

The surname Donay was first found in Wiltshire. Originally from Normandy, the name was originally spelt Dannet, for De Anet or D'Alneto. D'Alnai is mentioned at the Battle of Hastings (Wace) as 'Sire d'Alnai.' [1]

Early History of the Donay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Donay research. Another 278 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1246, 1296, 1500, 1577, 1648 and 1663 are included under the topic Early Donay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Donay Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Donay have been found, including Dunnett, Dunnet, Donnatt, Donnat, Downett, Downatt, Dunett, Dunet, Donnett and many more.

Early Notables of the Donay family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Donay family

Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become for new powerful nations. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name Donay, or a variant listed above: John Dunnet who settled in America in 1772. By the mid-1800's, the Dunnetts were among the many who traveled across the mid-west to the coast of California to make their home in San Francisco..



  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)


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