Show ContentsDowley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

While many Irish names are familiar, their past incarnations are often shrouded in mystery, reflecting the ancient Gaelic heritage of their bearers. The original Gaelic form of the name Dowley is O Dubhlaoich, derived from the words dubh, which means "dark featured, great, prodigious, burned" [1], and laoch, referring to a hero or champion.

Early Origins of the Dowley family

The surname Dowley was first found in Westmeath (Irish: An Iarmhí) in the Irish Midlands, province of Leinster, where they held a family seat from very ancient times. According to O'Hart, the family claim descent through the MacMorough family which are descendants of the Heremon Kings of Ireland and were Chiefs in the County Wicklow and Queen's County. [1]

Early History of the Dowley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dowley research. Another 86 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1622, 1702, 1787, 1844, 1787 and 1801 are included under the topic Early Dowley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dowley Spelling Variations

Many variations of the name Dowley were found in archives from the Middle Ages. These variations can be somewhat explained by the challenge of translation of Gaelic names into English. Hence, the spelling and language in which the people's names were recorded was often up to the individual scribe. Variations of the name Dowley found include Dooley, Dooly, O'Dooley, O'Dooly and others.

Early Notables of the Dowley family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name at this time was Richard Dowley (1622-1702), English nonconformist divine, son of John Dowley, vicar of Alveston, near Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire. Sir James Dowling (1787-1844), was a Australian colonial judge, born in London on 25 Nov. 1787. His father, Vincent Dowling, was a native of Queen's...
Another 49 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dowley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Dowley migration to the United States +

Irish families began leaving their homeland for North America in the late 18th century. These families were usually modestly well off, but they were looking forward to owning and working on a sizable tract of land of their own. This pattern of emigration continued until the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine sparked a major exodus of destitute and desperate Irish people. These people were not leaving for a grant of land in North America because by this time the East Coast had reached its saturation point and free land was scarce. They were merely looking to escape the disease, starvation, and hopelessness that Ireland had fallen into. Although these unfortunate immigrants did not receive a warm welcome by the established populations in the United States and what would become Canada, they were absolutely critical to the rapid development that these two nations enjoyed. They would help populate the western lands and provide the cheap labor required for a rapid industrialization. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many early bearers of the name Dowley or one of its variants:

Dowley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Timothy Dowley, aged 47, who landed in New York in 1812 [2]
  • Patrick Dowley, aged 22, who arrived in New York in 1864 [2]

Australia Dowley migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Dowley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Elizabeth Dowley, who arrived in Glenelg Roads aboard the ship "Pestonjee Bomanjee" in 1838 [3]

New Zealand Dowley 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:

Dowley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mary Dowley, aged 17, a servant, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Arawa" in 1884

Contemporary Notables of the name Dowley (post 1700) +

  • Fr. Philip Dowley CM (1788-1864), Irish priest and Provincial of the Vincentians in Ireland
  • Joe Dowley, British manager of Sittingbourne F.C. (2011-2012)

  1. O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  2. 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)
  3. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The PESTONJEE BOMANJEE 1838. Retrieved from on Facebook