Show ContentsDonner History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Donner family

The surname Donner was 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.

Early History of the Donner family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Donner research. Another 76 words (5 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 and printed products wherever possible.

Donner Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Donner family (pre 1700)

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

Donner Ranking

In the United States, the name Donner is the 7,761st most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [1]

United States Donner migration to the United States +

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 [2]
  • Hans Donner, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1753 [2]
  • Abraham Donner, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1766 [2]
Donner Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Jacob Donner, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1834 [2]
  • G Donner, who arrived in New York in 1850 [2]
  • Ferdinand Donner, who landed in St Clair County, Illinois in 1862 [2]
  • Wilhelm Donner, who arrived in St Clair County, Illinois in 1862 [2]

New Zealand Donner 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:

Donner Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Francis Donner, aged 27, a farm labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hudson" in 1879

Contemporary Notables of the name Donner (post 1700) +

  • Richard Donner (1930-2021), American Daytime Emmy Award nominated film director, film producer, and comic book writer who received the President's Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.
  • 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
  • Neal Donner, American Libertarian politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from California 32nd District, 1996 [3]
  • Herman Donner, American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Helsingfors, 1884, 1897 [3]
  • H. Franklin Donner, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives from Wayne County 5th District, 1932 [3]
  • Mrs. Frank Donner, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Indiana, 1936 [3]
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  2. 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)
  3. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 22) . Retrieved from on Facebook