Downes History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Throughout history, very few Irish surnames have exclusively maintained their original forms. Before being translated into English, Downes appeared as O Dubhain, where the first portion of the word is dubh, which means black, and the second portion is probably derived from some obsolete Irish personal name.

Early Origins of the Downes family

The surname Downes was first found in County Sligo (Irish: Sligeach), in the province of Connacht in Northwestern Ireland, from very ancient times.

Early History of the Downes family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Downes research. Another 190 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1612, 1679, 1675, 1549, 1628, 1735, 1727, 1735, 1724, 1727, 1720, 1724, 1717 and 1720 are included under the topic Early Downes History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Downes Spelling Variations

Within the archives researched, many different spelling variations of the surname Downes were found. These included One reason for the many variations is that scribes and church officials often spelled an individual's name as it sounded. This imprecise method often led to many versions. Downs, Down, Downe, Downes and others.

Early Notables of the Downes family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family name at this time was William Ducie (c. 1612-1679), created 1st Viscount Downe in 1675; Andrew Downes, also known as Dounaeus, (c.1549-1628), English classical scholar, one of the seven translators of the...
Another 35 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Downes Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Downes migration to the United States +

During the 19th century thousands of impoverished Irish families made the long journey to British North America and the United States. These people were leaving a land that had become beset with poverty, lack of opportunity, and hunger. In North America, they hoped to find land, work, and political and religious freedoms. Although the majority of the immigrants that survived the long sea passage did make these discoveries, it was not without much perseverance and hard work: by the mid-19th century land suitable for agriculture was short supply, especially in British North America, in the east; the work available was generally low paying and physically taxing construction or factory work; and the English stereotypes concerning the Irish, although less frequent and vehement, were, nevertheless, present in the land of freedom, liberty, and equality for all men. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Research into passenger and immigration lists has brought forth evidence of the early members of the Downes family in North America:

Downes Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Eustice Downes, who landed in Virginia in 1622 [1]
  • William Downes, aged 24, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [1]
  • Walter Downes, who landed in Virginia in 1637 [1]
  • Eustace Downes, who arrived in Virginia in 1637 [1]
  • Fr Downes, who landed in Virginia in 1638 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Downes Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Thomas Downes, who arrived in Virginia in 1712 [1]
  • Randall Downes, who landed in Virginia in 1719 [1]
  • Edward Downes, who landed in New England in 1724 [1]
  • Ann Downes, who settled in Maryland in 1730
  • James Downes, who landed in Maryland in 1740 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Downes Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Daniel Downes, who settled in New London Conn. in 1820
  • G Downes, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [1]
  • J Downes, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1856 [1]

Canada Downes migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Downes Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Michael Downes who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec but died on Grosse Isle in 1847 [2]
  • Mr. Owen Downes, aged 24 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Julius Caesar" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in September 1847 [2]
  • Mr. Patrick Downes, aged 25 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Triton" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in July 1847 [2]
  • Mr. Patrick Downes, aged 24 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Jessie" departing from the port of Limerick but died on Grosse Isle in August 1847 [2]
  • Mr. Thomas Downes, aged 1 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Argo" departing 4th May 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 12th June 1847 but he died on board [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Downes migration to Australia +

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

Downes Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Michael Downes, (b. 1775), aged 26, Irish convict who was convicted in Wexford, Ireland for life for being a Political prisoner and Captain of the Irish Rebels, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 29th November 1801, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • William Downes, a baker, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mr. Thomas Downes, British Convict who was convicted in London, England for life, transported aboard the "Asia" on 5th November 1835, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land)1836 [5]
  • Richard Downes, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Warrior" in 1840 [6]
  • Mr. William Downes, British Convict who was convicted in Gloucester, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Asiatic" on 26th May 1843, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Downes 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:

Downes Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Susan Downes, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Tobago" in 1842
  • Mrs. Susan Downes, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Tobago" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 14th September 1842 [8]
  • Child Downes, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Tobago" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 14th September 1842 [8]
  • S. Downes, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Slains Castle" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 1st December 1852 [8]
  • Mr. Downes, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Stately" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 5th February 1854 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Downes (post 1700) +

  • Edwin Olin Downes (1886-1955), American music critic
  • Commodore John Downes (1786-1854), United States Navy officer
  • Edward Olin Davenport Downes (1911-2001), American musicologist and music critic, best known as the host of Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts (1958 to 1996)
  • Doris Downes, American botanical artist and painter of natural history
  • L. G. Downes, American Republican politician, Mayor of Calais, Maine, 1876 [9]
  • Joseph B. Downes (1906-1955), American Democrat politician, Member of Connecticut State Senate 19th District, 1937-40; Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Connecticut, 1944 [9]
  • John P. Downes, American politician, Member of Illinois State House of Representatives, 1957-65, 1965-67, 1967-73 [9]
  • J. M. N. Downes, American politician, Candidate for West Virginia State Senate 13th District, 1914 [9]
  • George Downes, American politician, Mayor of Calais, Maine, 1850-51, 1859; Resigned 1859 [9]
  • Gary W. Downes, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Delaware State Senate 18th District, 1998 [9]
  • ... (Another 19 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Royal Oak
  • Arthur Frederick Downes (d. 1939), British Stoker 2nd Class with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [10]


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 26)
  3. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 73)
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1835
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) WARRIOR 1840. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1840Warrior.htm
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asiatic
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 25) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  10. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html


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