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The lineage of the name Downham begins with the Anglo-Saxon tribes in Britain. It is a result of when they lived in the parish of Dunham, in the county of Norfolk. The place-name is made up of two old English elements: dun, which is a word for hill; and ham, which means home. The translation of the name is home on the hill.

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The surname Downham was first found in Norfolk at Downham Market, often referred to as Downham, a town and civil parish. The place dates back to c. 1050 and was listed later in 1086 in the Domesday Book as Dunham. However, there are several more listings of the place name including Little Downham in Cambridgeshire, Downham, Lancashire and Downham, Essex. Wilmslow in Cheshire was an ancient family seat for the family. "The church is a handsome and very ancient structure in the decorated and later English styles, with a square tower; it comprises a nave, chancel, and two aisles, of which the east end of one and the west end of the other are inclosed as sepulchral chapels, for the families of Dunham and Trafford." [1]CITATION[CLOSE]
Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
Downham Estate is a housing estate in Downham, south east London named in honour of Lord Downham, who was chairman of the London County Council between 1919-1920. Downham Hall is an English country house in Downham, Lancashire, but this estate was never held by anyone with the family name.

Only recently has spelling become standardized in the English language. As the English language evolved in the Middle Ages, the spelling of names changed also. The name Downham has undergone many spelling variations, including Dunham, Dunnam, Downham, Dounham, Downnam and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Downham research. Another 305 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1190, 1332, 1511, 1577, 1561 and 1577 are included under the topic Early Downham History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Another 16 words (1 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Downham Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Some of the Downham family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 37 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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To escape the unstable social climate in England of this time, many families boarded ships for the New World with the hope of finding land, opportunity, and greater religious and political freedom. Although the voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, those families that arrived often found greater opportunities and freedoms than they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Downham were among those contributors:

Downham Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • John Downham, who landed in Virginia in 1665
  • William Downham, who landed in Virginia in 1666
  • John Downham, who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1668

Downham Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Thomas Downham, aged 23, a gardener, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Collingwood" in 1875
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  • E. Ethebert Downham, American politician, Mayor of Alexandria, Virginia, 1887-91; Defeated, 1878
  • Noel Y. Downham, British FIDS meteorological assistant at Hope Bay, Falkland Islands, eponym of Downham Peak, Antarctica
  • Jenny Downham (b. 1964), British novelist and an ex-actor, nominated for the 2008 Carnegie Medal and the 2008 Booktrust Teenage Prize
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Downham Historic Events



HMS Prince of Wales

  • Mr. James Arthur  Downham, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking
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Citations



  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  2. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  4. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  6. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  7. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  8. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  9. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  10. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Downham Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Downham 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 29 July 2016 at 06:02.

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