Show ContentsDowdil 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 Dowdil.

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 Dowdil family appears to have originally lived in a place called Dovedale or Dowdale in Yorkshire. 1

Another source claims the name was originally from D'Ovesdale Manor in Litlington, Cheshire. 2

The surname Dowdil 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 Dowdil surname is Dubhdal, this is one of the few instances where the element dubh is not derived from the adjective which means black.

Alternatively, the name Dowdale could mean "valley frequented by doves." 3

Early Origins of the Dowdil family

The surname Dowdil 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 Adam Dowedall was listed in Yorkshire in 1401. 2

In Cheshire, John de Uvedale alias de Ovedale was listed her in the Feet of Fines for 1304; Peter Douedale was listed in 1336; and Hugh de Uuedale in the 13th century. 2

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." 4 The Irish Dowdalls may have come from Dovedale in Derbyshire, England and settled in County Louth in the thirteenth century. Some of the most famous of the early immigrants are: Sir Robert Dowdall (died 1482), an Irish judge who held the office of Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas for more than forty years; his son, Thomas Dowdall, also spelt Dowdale, Douedall, or Dowedall, (died c. 1492) , an Irish barrister and judge who held the office of Master of the Rolls in Ireland; George Dowdall (1487-1558), an Irish cleric who was twice Archbishop of Armagh; James Dowdall (died 1600) was a Roman Catholic merchant and martyr from Drogheda, Ireland; and his cousin, Sir James Dowdall (died 1584), an Irish judge who briefly held office as Lord Chief Justice of Ireland.

Early History of the Dowdil family

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

Dowdil Spelling Variations

Medieval scribes and church officials spelled the names as they sounded, so a name was often spelled many different ways during the lifetime of a single person. The investigation of the origin of the name Dowdil revealed many spelling variations including Dowdall, Dovedale, Dowdale, Dowdell, Dowdle and others.

Early Notables of the Dowdil family

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 Dowdil Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Dowdil family

The Irish emigration during the late 18th and 19th century contributed to the melting pot of nationalities in North America, and the building of a whole new era of industry and commerce in what was seen as a rich, new land. Ireland'sGreat Potato Famine resulted in the worst economic and social conditions in the island's history. And in response to the hunger, disease, and poverty, during this decade the total number of emigrants to leave for North America rivaled all the previous years combined. Those from this decade that arrived on North American shores were not warmly welcomed by the established population, but they were vital to the rapid development of the industry, agriculture, and infrastructure of the infant nations of the United States and what would become Canada. Research into early immigration and passenger lists has shown many people bearing the name Dowdil: William Dowdell who settled in New England in 1761; James Dowdall settled in Virginia in 1788; Charles, James, and William Dowdall, arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1870.

  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. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  4. MacLysaght, Edward, More Irish Families. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0) on Facebook