Downsten History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
The lineage of the name Downsten begins with the Anglo-Saxon tribes in Britain. It is a result of when they lived near a stony hill. Downsten is derived from two Old English elements: dun and stan. Dun was a word for hill, and stan meant "stony." The translation of the name is therefore "stony hill." 
It is also possible that the name is patronymic; that is, derived from the name of a parent. Dunstan was a popular given name in England in the Middle Ages.
Early Origins of the Downsten family
The surname Downsten was first found in Cornwall where they held a family seat from very ancient times. The earliest reference of the name was of Saint Dunstan (c.909-988,) who was an Abbot of Glastonbury, a Bishop of Worcester, a Bishop of London, and an Archbishop of Canterbury. He was the son of Heorstan, a West-Saxon noble, whose estate lay near Glastonbury. 
Durston is a village and civil parish in Somerset that dates back to the Domesday Books where it lists Roger Arundel as originally holding the land but later passed to William de Arlegh who founded the priory of Buckland Sororum (also known as Buckland Priory) in about 1167.
"The earliest mention of Tehidy [Cornwall] occurs so early as the year 1100; at which time Alan de Dunstanville, who was then lord of the manor, and with whose female descendant William Basset married, granted a lease of Min winnion, now situated in the park, to Paul Guyer. This grant is said to have been renewed to Richard the son of Paul Guyer, about the year 1140 by William Basset, whose marriage with Cecilia, the heiress of Alan de Dunstanville, must have taken place some time between the dates of these two grants." 
The market-town and parish of Shiffnall in Shropshire was home to another branch of the family. "This place, formerly called Idsall, appears to have been of greater note than it is at present. It belonged to Earl Morcar prior to the Conquest, and at a period considerably later was the property of the family of Dunstanville, one of whom, Walter de Dunstanville, by the special command of Henry III., resided in the Marches, to protect them against the ravaging incursions of the Welsh. The estate afterwards came into the possession of the Badlesmeres, who obtained from Edward I. a market for two days in the week, and two yearly fairs." 
John Danstin, Dastyn or Daustin (fl. 1320), was an early English alchemist who "occupied, the foremost place among the alchemists of his time, and was the only master of his art in England. Originally a monk, he gave himself up to philosophical inquiries, and was reduced to the utmost poverty. The only record which remains to fix the period when Dastin lived is a letter which he addressed to Pope John XXII." 
Interestingly, Colonel George Durston was a collective pseudonym used by the Saalfield Publishing Company as the author of various American series books in the early 20th century.
Early History of the Downsten family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Downsten research. Another 142 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1202 and 1291 are included under the topic Early Downsten History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Downsten Spelling Variations
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 Downsten has undergone many spelling variations, including Dunstan, Dunston, Dunstone, Dunstane, Donston, Dunstavill, Dunstanville and many more.
Early Notables of the Downsten family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early Downsten Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Downsten family
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 Downsten were among those contributors: Andrew Dunston who settled in Virginia with his wife Cicely in 1653; William Dunston settled in Virginia in 1654; Anne Dunstan settled in Maryland in 1741.
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- ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
- ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
- ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.