Dunstan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Dunstan is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when a family lived near a stony hill. Dunstan 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." [1]

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 Dunstan family

The surname Dunstan 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. [2]

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." [3]

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." [4]

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." [2]

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 Dunstan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dunstan research. Another 142 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1202 and 1291 are included under the topic Early Dunstan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dunstan Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Dunstan family name include Dunstan, Dunston, Dunstone, Dunstane, Donston, Dunstavill, Dunstanville and many more.

Early Notables of the Dunstan family (pre 1700)

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


United States Dunstan migration to the United States +

For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, the Canadas, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Dunstan surname or a spelling variation of the name include :

Dunstan Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Dunstan, who arrived in Virginia in 1649 [5]
  • Peter Dunstan, who arrived in Virginia in 1650 [5]
Dunstan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Margaret Dunstan, who landed in Virginia in 1704 [5]
  • Margaret Dunstan, who arrived in Virginia in 1730 [5]
  • Anne Dunstan, who settled in Maryland in 1741
Dunstan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Dunstan, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]

Canada Dunstan migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Dunstan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • William Dunstan, who landed in Victoria, British Columbia in 1862

Australia Dunstan migration to Australia +

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

Dunstan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Henry Dunstan, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Henry Porcher" in 1838 [6]
  • John Dunstan, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lalla Rookh" in 1840 [7]
  • Martha Dunstan, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lalla Rookh" in 1840 [7]
  • Walter Dunstan, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Phoebe" in 1846 [8]
  • Thomas Dunstan, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cressy" in 1847 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Dunstan 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:

Dunstan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Richard Dunstan, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 30th September 1853 [10]
  • Ms Elizabeth Dunstan, (b. 1837), aged 25, Cornish settler departing on 5th August 1862 aboard the ship "Chrysolite" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 24th November 1862 [11]
  • Mr. John Dunstan, (b. 1838), aged 24, Cornish farm labourer departing on 5th August 1862 aboard the ship "Chrysolite" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 24th November 1862 [11]
  • Mr. Richard Dunstan, (b. 1840), aged 23, Cornish farm labourer departing on 18th June 1863 aboard the ship "Accrington" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 5th September 1863 [11]
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Dunstan, (b. 1839), aged 24, Cornish settler departing on 18th June 1863 aboard the ship "Accrington" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 5th September 1863 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Dunstan (post 1700) +

  • Bernard Dunstan RA (1920-2017), British artist, teacher, and author from Teddington, Middlesex, known for his studies of figures in interiors and landscapes
  • Keith Dunstan (1925-2013), Australian journalist and author, son of William Dunstan VC
  • Lieutenant General Sir Donald Beaumont Dunstan AC, KBE, CB (b. 1923), Governor of South Australia from 23 April 1982 until 5 February 1991
  • Lieutenant William Dunstan VC (1895-1957), Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • Sir Albert Arthur Dunstan (1882-1950), Australian politician, 33rd Premier of Victoria
  • Donald Allan Dunstan (1926-1999), Premier of South Australia between June 1967, and April 1968
  • Harold Dunstan Clum (b. 1879), American politician, U.S. Consul General in Guayaquil, 1930-33; Bucharest, 1933-35; Callao-Lima, 1935; Rotterdam, 1938 [12]
  • Dunstan L. Hattenschwiller, American politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from New York 37th District, 1978 [13]

HMS Prince of Wales


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) HENY PORCHER 1838. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1838HenryPorcher.htm
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LALA ROOKH 1840. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1840LallaRookh.htm
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PHEOBE/PHOEBE 1845. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1846Phoebe.htm
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CRESSY 1847. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1847Cressy.htm
  10. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  11. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to Lyttelton 1858-84 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 15) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 5) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  14. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html


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