Donkin History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The sea-swept Hebrides islands and the west coast of Scotland are the ancestral home of the Donkin family. Their name comes from the Gaelic personal name "Donnchad," which means "brown warrior". The personal name Donnchad is composed of two elements; "donn," which means "brown" and "cath," which means "warrior".

Early Origins of the Donkin family

The surname Donkin was first found in Northumberland, where they held great estates but were a branch of the distinguished Scottish Clan of Duncan who were originally of Iona in the Hebrides, but changed their name and continued to use the basic Coat of Arms of the Duncan Clan.

Early History of the Donkin family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Donkin research. Another 62 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Donkin History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Donkin Spelling Variations

Medieval translation of Gaelic names could not be referred to as an accurate process. Spelling was not yet standardized, and names in documents from that era are riddled with spelling variations. Donkin has been written as Donkin, Downkin, Donking, Donken, Downken and others.

Early Notables of the Donkin family (pre 1700)

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


United States Donkin migration to the United States +

Many of the ancestors of Dalriadan families who arrived in North America still live in communities along the east coast of Canada and the United States. In the American War of Independence many of the original settlers traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the ancestors of many Scots began recovering their collective national heritage through Clan societies, highland games, and other patriotic events. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Donkin or a variant listed above:

Donkin Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Patrick Donkin, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1820

Australia Donkin migration to Australia +

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

Donkin Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • James Donkin, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Jenny Lind" in 1850 [1]
  • William Donkin, aged 27, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "James Fernie" [2]

Contemporary Notables of the name Donkin (post 1700) +

  • Dylan Donkin, American rock musician
  • William Fishburn Donkin (1814-1869), English astronomer and mathematician, Savilian Professor of Astronomy at the University of Oxford [3]
  • Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin GCH KCB FRS FRGS (1773-1841), British army officer of the Napoleonic era and politician, Acting Governor of the Cape Colony (1820-1821) [3]
  • Bryan Donkin FRS (1768-1855), British inventor, engineer and industrialist; he developed the famous Fourdrinier machine and founded the first cannery to use tinned iron containers [3]
  • Bryan Donkin Junior (1835-1902), British engineer who introduced the Farey engine in 1871 and later the Steam Revealer in 1888
  • Robin Arthur Donkin (1928-2006), born Robert Arthur, English historian and geographer and fellow of the British Academy
  • Air Commodore Peter Donkin CBE DSO (1913-2000), British RAF bomber pilot
  • Sydney Bryan Donkin (1871-1952), British civil engineer, President of the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers in 1949
  • John Donkin (1802-1854), British engineer, son of Bryan Donkin, father of Bryan Donkin Jr, and grandfather of Sydney Donkin
  • William "Billy" Donkin (1900-1974), English professional footballer who played from 1921 to 1931
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Donkin 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: Disce pati
Motto Translation: Learn to suffer.


  1. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) JENNY LIND 1850. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850JennyLind.gif
  2. ^ South Australian Register Friday 17th November 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) James Fernie 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/jamesfernie1854.shtml
  3. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020


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