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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016


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.

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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.

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.


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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.

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

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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

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  • 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
  • Neal Donner, American Libertarian politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from California 32nd District, 1996
  • Herman Donner, American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Helsingfors, 1884, 1897
  • H. Franklin Donner, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives from Wayne County 5th District, 1932
  • Mrs. Frank Donner, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Indiana, 1936

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  1. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  2. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  3. McDonnell, Frances. Emigrants from Ireland to America 1735-1743 A Transcription of the report of the Irish House of Commons into Enforced emigration to America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1331-5).
  4. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
  5. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  6. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  7. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  8. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  9. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  10. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
  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 22 January 2016 at 12:36.

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