Downe History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Anglo-Saxon name Downe comes from the family having resided in an area that was described by a downward slope. The surname was originally derived from the Anglo-Saxon word dun which means a hill.

Early Origins of the Downe family

The surname Downe was first found in Sussex. Another branch was located at Roosdown in Devon. "This place, which was formerly a parish, was anciently called Ralphdown, from its owner, Ralph de Downe, in the reign of Henry II." [1]

Early History of the Downe family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Downe research. Another 329 words (24 lines of text) covering the years 1270, 1226, 1066, 1350, 1327, 1379, 1407, 1445, 1779, 1810, 1619, 1805, 1549, 1628, 1570, 1631, 1570, 1609, 1666, 1662, 1710 and are included under the topic Early Downe History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Downe Spelling Variations

Downe has been spelled many different ways. Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Spelling variants included: Down, Downe, Downer, Doune, Douner, Dounner, Downner and many more.

Early Notables of the Downe family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Andrew Downes, also known as Dounaeus, (c. 1549-1628), English classical scholar, one of the seven translators of the Apocrypha for the King James Version of the Bible. John Downe (1570?-1631), was an English divine, son of John Downe, by his wife, Joan, daughter of John...
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Downe Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Downe family to Ireland

Some of the Downe family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Downe migration to the United States +

In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Downes to arrive on North American shores:

Downe Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Robert Downe arrived on St. Christopher (Saint Kitts) Island, in the West Indies in 1635
  • Tho Downe, who landed in Virginia in 1650 [2]
  • Jane Downe, who landed in Virginia in 1653 [2]
  • Richard Downe, who arrived in Maryland in 1661 [2]
  • John Downe, who crossed over in 1663 and landed in Virginia. Later he sailed south in 1685 to Barbados
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Downe Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Abraham Downe, who landed in Maryland in 1734 [2]
  • John Downe, who arrived in New England in 1740 [2]
  • Jacob Downe, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1797
  • Jacob Downe, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1797 [2]

Canada Downe migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Downe Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century
  • William Downe, who settled in Bonavista in 1681

New Zealand Downe 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:

Downe Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • J Downe, who landed in New Plymouth, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship Amelia Thompson

West Indies Downe migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [3]
Downe Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Robert Downe, who settled in St. Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1635
  • Jane Downe who settled in Jamaica in 1685
  • John Downe, who settled in Barbados in 1685

Contemporary Notables of the name Downe (post 1700) +

  • Ryan Downe, American musician and audio engineer
  • Taime Downe (b. 1964), born Gustave Molvik, an American Rock musician
  • William A. "Bill" Downe (b. 1952), Canadian bank executive, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bank of Montreal (2007-)
  • Donald Richard Downe (b. 1951), Canadian farmer and politician, MLA for Lunenburg West (1993-2003)
  • Percy Downe (b. 1954), Canadian political aide and Senator from Prince Edward Island (2003-), Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister's Office (2001–2003)


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  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. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies


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