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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the Irish Dowdy family come from? What is the Irish Dowdy family crest and coat of arms? When did the Dowdy family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Dowdy family history?

The original Gaelic form of Dowdy was O Dubhda. The first portion of the name comes from the word dubh, which means black or dark complexioned. [1]


People who were accounted for by scribes and church officials often had their name recorded many different ways because pronunciation was the only guide those scribes and church officials had to go by. This resulted in the problem of one person's name being recorded under several different variations, creating the illusion of more than one person. Among the many spelling variations of the surname Dowdy that are preserved in archival documents are Dowd, Duddy, Doody, O'Dowd, Dowdy, Dowdie, Doudy, Doudie, Doudd, Doodie and many more.

First found in County Mayo (Irish: Maigh Eo) located on the West coast of the Republic of Ireland in the province of Connacht. King Niall, brother of Fiachra and descended from Daithi, was one of the last pagan Kings of Ireland. For centuries they were the leading sept of northern Ui Fiachrach. Their territory comprised the baronies of Erris and Tirawley in the county of Mayo and Tireagh in Sligo. [2] They were the traditional Princes of Hy-Fiachra in Connaught. [1]


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dowdy research. Another 461 words(33 lines of text) covering the years 1354, 1579, 1813, 1891, 1579, 1579, 1656 and 1706 are included under the topic Early Dowdy History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 53 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dowdy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Irish families left their homeland in astonishing numbers during the 19th century in search of a better life. Although individual reasons vary, most of these Irish families suffered from extreme poverty, lack of work opportunities, and exorbitant rents in their homeland. Many decided to travel to Australia or North America in the hopes of finding greater opportunities and land. The Irish immigrants that came to North America initially settled on the East Coast, often in major centers such as Boston or New York. But like the many other cultures to settle in North America, the Irish traveled to almost any region they felt held greater promise; as a result, many Irish with gold fever moved all the way out to the Pacific coast. Others before that time left for land along the St. Lawrence River and the Niagara Peninsula, or the Maritimes as United Empire Loyalists, for many Irish did choose to side with the English during the American War of Independence. The earliest wave of Irish migration, however, occurred during the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. An examination of early immigration and passenger lists has revealed many people bearing the Dowdy name:

Dowdy Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Henry Dowdy, who landed in Connecticut in 1639
  • George Dowdy, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1645
  • Jno Dowdy, who arrived in Virginia in 1657
  • Danl Dowdy, who landed in Virginia in 1699

Dowdy Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Joseph Dowdy, who arrived in Virginia in 1717
  • Nathaniel Dowdy, who landed in Savanna(h), Georgia in 1794

Dowdy Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • William James Dowdy arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Ramillies" in 1849
  • Marie Dowdy arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Ramillies" in 1849
  • Richard James Dowdy arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Ramillies" in 1849
  • William Ramillies McLean Dowdy arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Ramillies" in 1849
  • Bridget Dowdy, aged 18, arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Sibella"

Dowdy Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Thomas Dowdy, aged 19, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Soukar" in 1874


  • John Vernard Dowdy (1912-1995), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas (1952-1967) and (1967-1973)
  • Charles Wayne Dowdy (b. 1943), American former politician, United States Congressman from Mississippi (1981-1989)
  • Bill Dowdy (b. 1933), American musician and teacher, born in Arkansas, best known as the drummer for the jazz trio, The Three Sounds
  • Helen Dowdy, American Broadway actress and singer
  • Cecil Dowdy (1945-2002), American college football player and businessman, two-time National champion (1964, 1965)
  • Lewis Carnegie Dowdy (1917-2000), American educator, the 6th President, and first chancellor of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (1964-1972)
  • Nancy M. O'Fallon Dowdy, American nuclear physicist who was instrumental in nuclear disarmament negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union after the Cold War, Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • Colonel Joe D. Dowdy (b. 2003), American commanding officer of the Regimental Combat Team 1 during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, current Special Operations Manager at NASA's Kennedy Space Center
  • Adam Matthew Dowdy (b. 1975), American former professional baseball umpire who worked more than 400 games between 2002 and 2008


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  1. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  2. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)

Other References

  1. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  3. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
  4. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  5. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  6. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  7. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  8. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  10. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  11. ...

The Dowdy Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Dowdy 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 9 February 2015 at 09:38.

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