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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


Throughout history, very few Irish surnames have exclusively maintained their original forms. Before being translated into English, Downs 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.

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

A name was often recorded during the Middle Ages under several different spelling variations during the life of its bearer because literacy was rare there was no real push to clearly define any of the languages found in the British Isles at that time. Variations found of the name Downs include Downs, Down, Downe, Downes and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Downs research. Another 379 words (27 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 Downs History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 123 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Downs Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Death and immigration greatly reduced Ireland's population in the 19th century. For the native Irish people poverty, hunger, and racial prejudice was common. Therefore, thousands left their homeland to seek opportunity in North America. Those who survived the journey and the quarantine camps to which they arrived, were instrumental towards building the strong developing nations of the United States and the future Canada. By far, the largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. These were employed as construction or factory workers. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Downs:

Downs Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • James Downs, aged 30, arrived in New York, NY in 1803
  • Thomas Downs, who arrived in America in 1807
  • Richard M Downs, who landed in Mississippi in 1841
  • Timothy Downs, who landed in Vermont in 1848
  • C H Downs, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851


Downs Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Mary Downs, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1809

Downs Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Eliza Downs, English convict from York, who was transported aboard the "Angelina" on April 25, 1844, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • George Downs arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Stebonheath" in 1849
  • William Downs, aged 53, a shoemaker, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Epaminondas"
  • John Downs, aged 17, a shoemaker, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Epaminondas"
  • Lucy Downs, aged 15, a nurse, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Epaminondas"


Downs Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Clarles J. Downs arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Queen of Beauty" in 1863
  • Margaret Downs, aged 20, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jessie Readman" in 1872
  • John Downs, aged 33, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "City of Auckland" in 1872
  • Mary Downs, aged 29, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "City of Auckland" in 1872
  • Walter Downs, aged 9, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "City of Auckland" in 1872


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  • Bill Downs (1914-1978), American broadcast journalist for CBS Radio, one of Murrow's Boys
  • Deidre Downs (b. 1980), American beauty pageant contestant and winner of Miss America 2005
  • Brigadier-General Sylvester DeWitt Jr. Downs (1889-1957), American Deputy Chief of Staff, IX Corps (1945)
  • Arthur W. Downs, American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Maryland 7th District, 1968
  • Arthur D. Downs, American Republican politician, Postmaster at Wyandotte, Kansas, 1867-81
  • Alice Downs, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1952
  • Benjamin Downs, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Illinois State Senate 37th District, 1938
  • Bradley Downs, American politician, Socialist Workers Candidate for Delegate to U.S. Congress from the District of Columbia, 1994
  • Crawford Hugh Downs, American Democrat politician, Member of Louisiana State Senate, 1950
  • D. L. Downs, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Wisconsin, 1868

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  • The Downs Family of Virginia, Ohio & Indiana by George Gilbert McCarthy.
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  1. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  2. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  3. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  4. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
  5. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  9. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  10. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  11. ...

The Downs Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Downs 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 5 February 2016 at 15:12.

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