Donn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms 

Early Origins of the Donn family

The surname Donn 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.

Important Dates for the Donn family

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

Donn Spelling Variations

One relatively recent invention that did much to standardize English spelling was the printing press. However, before its invention even the most literate people recorded their names according to sound rather than spelling. The spelling variations under which the name Donn has appeared include Done, Donn, Donne, Doan, Doane, Doune and others.

Early Notables of the Donn family (pre 1700)

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; Sir Charles Doune of Doune...
Another 30 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Donn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Donn migration to the United States

At this time, the shores of the New World beckoned many English families that felt that the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. Thousands left England at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. A great portion of these settlers never survived the journey and even a greater number arrived sick, starving, and without a penny. The survivors, however, were often greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. These English settlers made significant contributions to those colonies that would eventually become the United States and Canada. An examination of early immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name Donn arrived in North America very early:

Donn Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Jo Donn, aged 14, who arrived in Bermuda in 1635 [3]
  • Tho Donn, aged 25, who arrived in America in 1635 [3]
  • Clemt Donn, who landed in Virginia in 1639 [3]
  • Arthur Donn, who arrived in Virginia in 1643 [3]
  • Joan Donn, who landed in Virginia in 1664 [3]
Donn Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Timothy Donn, who arrived in Virginia in 1704 [3]

Donn 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:

Donn Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Alexander Donn, (b. 1812), aged 67, Scottish farmer, from Caithness travelling from Clyde aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Invercargill, Southland, South Island, New Zealand on 28th August 1879 [4]
  • Mr. John Donn, (b. 1862), aged 17, Scottish farm servant, from Caithness travelling from Clyde aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Invercargill, Southland, South Island, New Zealand on 28th August 1879 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Donn (post 1700)

  • Rob Donn MacAoidh (1714-1778), Scottish Gaelic poet
  • Donn Alan Pennebaker (1925-2019), American documentary filmmaker, a pioneer of Direct Cinema
  • General Donn A. Starry, American Army officer, Commander of the Armor Center and the Armor School, Commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (1977)
  • Donn Fulton Eisele (1930-1987), American astronaut, Commander of Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo space flight in October 1968 [5]
  • Donn Conner Fendler (1926-2016), American author and public speaker
  • Donn Swaby (b. 1973), American actor, best known for his role on the television soap opera Passions
  • Donn Tatum (1913-1993), the first non-Disney family member to be president of Walt Disney Productions
  • Donn Byrne (1889-1928), Irish-American novelist who's works include "Messer Marco Polo" (1921) and "Hangman's House" (1926)
  • Donn Paul Medalie (1906-1975), American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Stuttgart, 1932; Montreal, 1938; Kingston, 1938 [6]
  • Donn Larson, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from South Dakota, 2004 [7]

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  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. ^ 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)
  4. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  5. ^ NASA Astronauts Homepage. (Retrieved 2010, September 27) Donn Eisele. Retrieved from
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 4) . Retrieved from
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 25) . Retrieved from
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