Donhan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
In ancient Anglo-Saxon England, the ancestors of the Donhan surname lived in the parish of Dunham, in the county of Norfolk. The place-name is made up of two old English elements: dun, which is a word for hill; and ham, which means home. The translation of the name is home on the hill.
Early Origins of the Donhan family
The surname Donhan was first found in Norfolk at Downham Market, often referred to as Downham, a town and civil parish. The place dates back to c. 1050 and was listed later in 1086 in the Domesday Book as Dunham. However, there are several more listings of the place name including Little Downham in Cambridgeshire, Downham, Lancashire and Downham, Essex.
Wilmslow in Cheshire was an ancient family seat for the family. "The church is a handsome and very ancient structure in the decorated and later English styles, with a square tower; it comprises a nave, chancel, and two aisles, of which the east end of one and the west end of the other are inclosed as sepulchral chapels, for the families of Dunham and Trafford." 
Downham Estate is a housing estate in Downham, south east London named in honour of Lord Downham, who was chairman of the London County Council between 1919-1920.
Downham Hall is an English country house in Downham, Lancashire, but this estate was never held by anyone with the family name.
Early History of the Donhan family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Donhan research. Another 153 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1190, 1332, 1511, 1577, 1561, 1577, 1579, 1634, 1561, 1585 and 1652 are included under the topic Early Donhan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Donhan Spelling Variations
It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Donhan are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Donhan include: Dunham, Dunnam, Downham, Dounham, Downnam and others.
Early Notables of the Donhan family (pre 1700)
Distinguished members of the family include William Downham (1511-1577) chaplain to Princess Elizabeth, Bishop of Chester (1561-1577.)
William Damon or Daman was one of Queen Elizabeth's musicians and is probably the earliest composer who set the Psalms in the vernacular to part-music. His work appeared first in 1579, printed by John Day. 
George Downham or Downame (d. 1634), was...
Another 58 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Donhan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Donhan family to Ireland
Some of the Donhan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Donhan family
Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Donhan or a variant listed above: John Dunham of Plymouth who in 1633 purchased land at Dartmouth. Later John Dunham of Barnstable settled in 1655. By 1850 the Dunham name had reached as far west as San Francisco..
- Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print