Show ContentsDorset History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient history of the name Dorset dates back to the days of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It was a name given to a good-tempered person. The surname Dorset is derived from the Old English words douce and dowce, which mean sweet, pleasant. These words, which later became doux, were ultimately derived from the Old French words dolz and dous, which had the same meaning. As a personal name, Dorset was often given to females and occasionally was borne by males.

Early Origins of the Dorset family

The surname Dorset was first found in Wiltshire where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Early History of the Dorset family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dorset research. Another 59 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dorset History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dorset Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Dorset include Dowse, Dowcett, Dowsett, Dorset, Dorsett, Dowser, Dowsey and many more.

Early Notables of the Dorset family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include William Dowse of Collingborn; Edward Dowse (1582-1648), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1640 to 1648; and Thomas Dowse,(c. 1630-1683), also...
Another 34 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dorset Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Dorset family to Ireland

Some of the Dorset family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 36 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Dorset migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Dorset or a variant listed above:

Dorset Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Dorset, who settled in Virginia in 1643
Dorset Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Dorset, who settled in Monmouth county New Jersey arriving from Bermuda

New Zealand Dorset 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:

Dorset Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John MU Dorset, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1839
  • Mr. Dorset, British surgeon travelling from London aboard the ship "Tory" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 20th September 1839 [1]
  • Edward Dorset, who landed in New Plymouth, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship London
  • William Dorset, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • William Dorset, aged 28, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1840
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Dorset (post 1700) +

  • Catherine Anne Dorset (1750-1817), English poetess, the younger daughter of Nicholas Turner, gentleman, of Stoke, near Guildford, and Bignor Park, Sussex [2]
  • Garret Dorset Wall (1783-1850), American military officer and politician, Governor of New Jersey in 1829

  1. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  2. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020 on Facebook