Downstend History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The name Downstend is an old Anglo-Saxon name. It comes from when a family lived near a stony hill. Downstend 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 Downstend family
The surname Downstend 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 Downstend family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Downstend research. Another 142 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1202 and 1291 are included under the topic Early Downstend History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Downstend Spelling Variations
Before the last few hundred years, the English language had no fast system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations are commonly found in early Anglo-Saxon surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Downstend were recorded, including Dunstan, Dunston, Dunstone, Dunstane, Donston, Dunstavill, Dunstanville and many more.
Early Notables of the Downstend family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early Downstend Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Downstend family
To escape oppression and starvation at that time, many English families left for the "open frontiers" of the New World with all its perceived opportunities. In droves people migrated to the many British colonies, those in North America in particular, paying high rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Although many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, those who did see the shores of North America perceived great opportunities before them. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Research into various historical records revealed some of first members of the Downstend family emigrate to North America: 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.