Downing History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the name Downing date back to the days of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from their residence in Downing, Oxfordshire. There is much speculation about the origin of this name as another source notes that the name could be from a "descendant of Dunn (dark brown); dweller at the hill or hill pasture" [1] and another source claims that the name could have been a nickname for someone with a "dark-brown complexion." [2] And another source claims the name is derived from "a location name in Worcestershire." [3]

Early Origins of the Downing family

The surname Downing was first found in Oxfordshire where Richard Duning was the first record of the family found there in 1197 in the Feet of Fines. Later, Geoffrey Dounyng was listed in 1311. [4]

Early records in Somerset revealed John Dounynne and Tonn Dunnyng, 1 Edward III (during the first year of King Edward III's reign.) [5]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed Hervey Dunning, Cambridgeshire and Richard Duning, Oxfordshire. [6]

And in Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed Johannes Dunnyng; Alicia Downyng and Johannes Downnyng. [6]

"The Downings of Speckshall in the 17th century were a branch of the very ancient Essex family of the name, a member of which was made a Baronet in 1663, whilst another was founder of Downing College, Cambridge. The Downings have their home now in Ipswich and its neighbourhood. In South Elmham church there is, or was, a monument to Dorcas Downinge, bearing the date of 1638." [7]

The Downing Baronetcy, of East Hatley in the County of Cambridge was created for Sir George Downing, 1st Baronet (c.1625-1684.) Downing Street in London is named after him.

Early History of the Downing family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Downing research. Another 148 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1379, 1400, 1672, 1623, 1684, 1656, 1711, 1685, 1749, 1764, 1606, 1644, 1606, 1623 and 1626 are included under the topic Early Downing History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Downing Spelling Variations

Downing 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. Many variations of the name Downing have been found, including Downing, Doning, Douning, Duning and others.

Early Notables of the Downing family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Sir George Downing (1623-1684), 1st Baronet of East Hatley, an Anglo-Irish soldier, statesman, and diplomat, eponym of Downing Street in London; Sir George Downing, (c. 1656-1711), 2nd Baronet of East Hatley, Teller of the Receipt of the Exchequer; and Sir George Downing, (1685-1749), 3rd Baronet of East...
Another 55 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Downing Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Downing family to Ireland

Some of the Downing family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Downing 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 Downings to arrive on North American shores:

Downing Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Francis Downing, who settled in Virginia in 1624
  • James Downing and Emanuel Downing who both settled in Salem in 1630
  • Emanuel Downing, who landed in Salem, Massachusetts in 1638 [8]
  • George Downing, who arrived in New England in 1642 [8]
  • William Downing, who arrived in Virginia in 1647 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Downing Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Eliza Downing, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [8]
  • Anthony Downing, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [8]
  • Jone Downing, who landed in Virginia in 1705 [8]
  • Geo Downing, who landed in Virginia in 1714 [8]
  • Elizabeth, Downing Jr., who arrived in Virginia in 1717 [8]
Downing Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Elizabeth Downing, who landed in New York in 1844 [8]
  • W B Downing, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [8]
  • W R Downing, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [8]
  • E W Downing, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [8]
  • J Downing, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Downing migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Downing Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Henry Downing, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Joseph Downing, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Ms. Sarah Doyle U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1786 [9]
Downing Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Francis Downing, who landed in Quebec in 1820
  • Thomas Downing, aged 27, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Thomas Hanford" from Cork, Ireland
  • Daniel Downing, aged 30, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1837 aboard the brig "Thetis" from Cork, Ireland
  • Mr. Peter Downing, aged 8 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Erin's Queen" departing 1st June 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 23rd July 1847 but he died on board [10]

Australia Downing migration to Australia +

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

Downing Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Mary Downing, (b. 1803), aged 23, Irish dairy maid who was convicted in County Kerry, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Brothers" on 3rd October 1826, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, listed as having 1 child [11]
  • Mr. Jeremiah Downing, (b. 1809), aged 19, English labourer who was convicted in West Riding, Yorkshire, England for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Bussorah Merchant" on 24th March 1828, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1868 [12]
  • Mr. William Downing (b. 1796), aged 35, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 4th January 1831, sentenced for 7 years for stealing a plane from Henry Blewitt, transported aboard the ship "Isabella" on 22nd November 1831 to New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • Ms. Elizabeth Downing (b. 1817), aged 17, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 8th April 1834, sentenced for 7 years stealing money from her employer, Francis Chiffers, transported aboard the ship "New Grove" on 30th October 1834 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [13]
  • Miss Elizabeth Downing, (b. 1817), aged 17 born in Cornwall, UK convicted in Cornwall on 8th April 1834, sentenced for 7 years for stealing money, transported aboard the ship "New Grove" in 1834 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Downing 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:

Downing Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Ellen Downing, aged 22, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1840
  • Mr. Downing, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 30th September 1853 [15]
  • Mrs. Downing, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 30th September 1853 [15]
  • W. Downing, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Josephine Willis" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 5th February 1855 [15]
  • Honore Downing, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "African" in 1860
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Downing (post 1700) +

  • James Willis Downing (1913-2018), American Lieutenant in the United States Navy from Oak Grove, Jackson County, Missouri, Commanding officer of the USS Patapsco, the second oldest survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor
  • Bernard Downing (1869-1931), American politician, New York State Senator (1917-1918) and (1919-1931), Minority Leader in the New York State Senate (1926-1931)
  • Benjamin Brackett Downing (b. 1981), American politician, Member of the Massachusetts Senate (2007-)
  • Ben Downing (b. 1967), American writer, editor, and teacher
  • Antoinette Forrester Downing (1904-2001), American architectural historian and preservationist, inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1978
  • Burton Downing (1885-1929), American two time gold, three time sliver and one time bronze Olympic medalist for cycling at the 1904 Summer Games
  • Wilfred "Will" Downing (b. 1963), American singer-songwriter and producer
  • Brian Jay Downing (b. 1950), American former Major League Baseball player
  • Alphonso Erwin "Al" Downing (b. 1941), American former Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Andrew Jackson Downing (1815-1852), American landscape designer, horticulturalist, and writer
  • ... (Another 7 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. William George Downing, British Leading Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [16]
  • Mr. Michael P Downing, British Chief Petty Officer, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [16]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Frank H Downing, British Leading Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [17]
HMS Royal Oak
  • H.V. Downing, British Stoker with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [18]


Suggested Readings for the name Downing +

  • 1072 "The Downings of Europe and America, 1273-1973" by Anna May Cochrane Gregath, "Thaddeus K. Smith and Bertah Heyne: Their Ancestors and Descendants, Including the Families of Bard, Downing, and Veach" by Margaret E. Herrick.

  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  3. ^ Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  6. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  7. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  10. ^ 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. 74)
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/brothers
  12. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bussorah-merchant
  13. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  14. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/tasmanian_convicts_cornish.pdf
  15. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  16. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  17. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  18. ^ 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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