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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

There are a multitude of ancient meanings and variations associated with the Irish surnames that are now common throughout the modern world. The original Gaelic form of the name Dunfee is O Donnchaidh, which means descendant of Donnchadh, a personal name Anglicized as Donogh.


The surname Dunfee was first found in County Kerry (Irish:Ciarraí) part of the former County Desmond (14th-17th centuries), located in Southwestern Ireland, in Munster province, where they held a family seat from very ancient times.

Within archives, many different spelling variations exist for the surname Dunfee. Ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in the name of the single person being recorded under several different spellings. Different spellings that were found include Dunphy, Dunfy, O'Dunphy, O'Donoghue and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dunfee research. Another 300 words (21 lines of text) covering the years 1014 and 1600 are included under the topic Early Dunfee History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


More information is included under the topic Early Dunfee Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Irish families fled the English-colonized Ireland in record numbers during the 19th century for North Ameri ca. Many of those destitute families died from disease during, and even shortly after, the long journey. Although those that immigrated before the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s often were granted a tract of land, those that arrived later were generally accommodated in urban centers or in work camps. Those in the urban centers would labor in the manufacturing sector, whereas those in work camps would to build critical infrastructures such as bridges, canals, roads, and railways. Regardless of when these Irish immigrants came to North America, they were critical for the rapid development of the young nations of the United States and Canada. Early immigration and passenger lists have recorded many early immigrants bearing the name of Dunfee:

Dunfee Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • John Dunfee, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1768

Dunfee Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Annie Dunfee, aged 52, who emigrated to Syracuse, NY, in 1913
  • Ernest Dunfee, aged 46, who landed in America from London, England, in 1913
  • Augustus C. Dunfee, aged 43, who settled in New York, N.Y., in 1920

  • Nora Dunfee (1915-1994), American Broadway and film actress, best known for her performance as the Elderly Southern Lady on the bench with Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump (1994)
  • Howard Dunfee, American politician, Mayor of Bellaire, Ohio, 1954
  • H. O. Dunfee, American politician, Member of West Virginia State House of Delegates from Cabell County, 1921
  • Beresford Clive Dunfee (1904-1932), British racing driver, one of the "Bentley Boys " of the 1930s

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Generosa virtus nihil timet
Motto Translation: Generous valour fears nothing


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    Other References

    1. 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.
    2. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
    3. 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).
    4. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    5. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    6. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
    7. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
    8. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
    9. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
    10. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
    11. ...

    The Dunfee Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Dunfee 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 March 2016 at 22:08.

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