Dowdell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Ireland already had an established system of hereditary surnames when the Strongbownians arrived. Often the two traditions blended together quite well due to some of their basic similarities, but the incoming Anglo-Norman system brought in some forms that were uncommon amongst the Irish. One of these Anglo-Norman anomalies was the prevalence of local surnames, such as Dowdell. Local names were taken from the names of a place or a geographical feature where the person lived, held land, or was born. Originally, the place names were prefixed by de, which means from in French. This type of prefix was eventually either made a part of the surname if the place name began with a vowel or was eliminated entirely. The local surnames of these Strongbownian invaders referred to places in Normandy, or more typically England, but eventually for those Anglo- Normans that remained in Ireland, the nicknames referred to places or geographical features of the island: they became true local names. The Dowdell family appears to have originally lived in a place called Dovedale or Dowdale in Yorkshire. The surname Dowdell belongs to the large category of Anglo-Norman habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. The Gaelic form of the Dowdell surname is Dubhdal, this is one of the few instances where the element dubh is not derived from the adjective which means black.

Early Origins of the Dowdell family

The surname Dowdell was first found in Yorkshire, at Dowdale where the first records of the family appear in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379: Johannes de Dowedale; Willelmus de Dowedale; and Willelmus Doudale who all held lands there at that time. [1]

The introduction to Ireland where the name is most popular, dates back to Strongbow's invasion of Ireland and was "prominent in the Pale since the Anglo-Norman invasion." [2]

Early History of the Dowdell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dowdell research. Another 102 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1482, 1600, 1584, 1487, 1558, 1658 and 1641 are included under the topic Early Dowdell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dowdell Spelling Variations

Church officials and medieval scribes spelled names as they sounded; therefore, single person, could have his name spelt many different ways during their lifetime. While investigating the origins of the name Dowdell, many spelling variations were encountered, including: Dowdall, Dovedale, Dowdale, Dowdell, Dowdle and others.

Early Notables of the Dowdell family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family up to this time was Sir Robert Dowdall (died 1482), an Irish judge who held the office of Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas; Christopher Dowdall of Castle Dowdall; Sir William Dowdall of Kilfinny, County Limerick; James Dowdall (d. 1600)...
Another 45 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dowdell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Dowdell migration to the United States +

Ireland's Great Potato Famine left the country's inhabitants in extreme poverty and starvation. Many families left their homeland for North America for the promise of work, freedom and land ownership. Although the Irish were not free of economic and racial discrimination in North America, they did contribute greatly to the rapid development of bridges, canals, roads, and railways. Eventually, they would be accepted in other areas such as commerce, education, and the arts. An examination of immigration and passenger lists revealed many bearing the name Dowdell:

Dowdell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Dowdell, who landed in America in 1760-1763 [3]
  • William Dowdell who settled in New England in 1761
Dowdell Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Kate Dowdell, aged 23, who settled in America from Williamstown, Ireland, in 1907
  • Mary Dowdell, aged 58, who immigrated to the United States from Williamstown, Ireland, in 1907
  • John Dowdell, aged 30, who immigrated to the United States from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1909
  • Cathenne Dowdell, aged 46, who landed in America from Ireland, in 1911
  • Elizabeth Dowdell, aged 27, who immigrated to America from Ireland, in 1911
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Dowdell (post 1700) +

  • Robert Dowdell (1932-2018), American actor from Park Ridge, Illinois, best known for his role as Lieutenant Commander Chip Morton in the television series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
  • Rel Dowdell, American screenwriter, film director, film producer, and screenwriting educator
  • James Render Dowdell (1847-1921), American jurist, the 20th Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court (1909 to 1914)
  • Zabian Dowdell (b. 1984), American professional basketball player
  • Jeffery Dowdell (b. 1987), Australian basketball player
  • Ben Dowdell (b. 1988), Australian rules footballer
  • James Ferguson Dowdell (1818-1871), American academic, the second President of the East Alabama College

HMS Hood
  • Mr. William F S Dowdell (b. 1908), English Leading Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Gosport, Hampshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [4]
RMS Titanic
  • Miss Elizabeth Dowdell, aged 31, American Third Class passenger from New York City, New York who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived in the sinking in life boat 13 [5]


  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, More Irish Families. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0)
  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. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  5. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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