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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Where did the Irish Donner family come from? What is the Irish Donner family crest and coat of arms? When did the Donner family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Donner family history?

The many Irish surnames in use today have long rich histories behind them. The name Donner originally appeared in Gaelic as O Donnchadha, which means son of Donnchadh or son of Donagh.


Within archives, many different spelling variations exist for the surname Donner. Ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in the name of the single person being recorded under several different spellings. Different spellings that were found include Donoghue, Donaghoe, Donaho, Donahoe, Donough, Donahue, Donahow, Doneghoe, Donehue, Donighue, Donohoe,Donahugh, Donohough, Donohow, Donohue, Donaughue, O'Donoghue, Dunphy, Donaghie, Donaghy and many more.

First found in County Kerry (Irish:Ciarraí) part of the former County Desmond (14th-17th centuries), located in Southwestern Ireland, in Munster province, where they held a family seat from very ancient times.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Donner research. Another 210 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1640, 1811, 1812, and 1893 are included under the topic Early Donner History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 28 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Donner Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


North America accepted thousands of Irish immigrants during the 19th century as their homeland suffered under foreign imperialistic rule. Although settlers from the early portion of the century came to North America by choice in search of land, by far the largest influx of Irish immigrants came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Many of these Irish families left the country destitute and in some cases suffering from disease. However, those who survived the long ocean voyage were especially vital to the development of industry in the United States and what would become known as Canada. Research of immigration and passenger lists has shown many early immigrants bearing the name Donner:

Donner Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Andreas Donner, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1749
  • Hans Donner, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1753
  • Abraham Donner, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1766

Donner Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Jacob Donner, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1834
  • G Donner, who arrived in New York in 1850
  • Ferdinand Donner, who landed in St Clair County, Illinois in 1862
  • Wilhelm Donner, who arrived in St Clair County, Illinois in 1862

Donner Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Francis Donner, aged 27, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hudson" in 1879


  • Jack Donner (b. 1928), American actor
  • Lauren Shuler Donner (b. 1949), American film producer
  • Robert Donner (1931-2006), American actor persuaded by his neighbor Clint Eastwood to pursue acting
  • George Donner (1784-1847), American leader of the Donner Party, an ill-fated group of California-bound American settlers who were snowbound in the Sierra Nevada in the winter of 1846–1847, eponym of the Donner Pass and Donner Lake
  • William H. Donner (1864-1953), American businessman and philanthropist, from Columbus, Indiana
  • Richard Donner (b. 1930), American Daytime Emmy Award nominated film director, film producer, and comic book writer
  • Sir Patrick William Donner (1904-1988), British Member of Parliament
  • Clive Stanley Donner (1926-2010), British film director
  • Jan Pieter Hendrik "Piet Hein" Donner (b. 1948), Dutch politician


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  1. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  3. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  4. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  5. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  6. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  7. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  8. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  9. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  10. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
  11. ...

The Donner Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Donner Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 29 July 2012 at 09:12.

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