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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

The ancient roots of the Dunster family name are in the Anglo-Saxon culture. The name Dunster comes from when the family lived in the parish of Dunster in the county of Somerset. The place-name is derived from the Old English word Dunntorr, which refers to a rocky peak.


The surname Dunster was first found in Somerset at Dunster, home of Dunster Castle, a former motte and bailey castle, now a country house owned by the National Trust, which operates it as a tourist attraction. The location has been fortified since the late Anglo-Saxon period and the by the 11th century, William de Mohun had constructed a timber castle on the site. After the siege of Dunster Castle at the end of the English Civil War, much of the castle was destroyed but was later remodeled to fit Victorian tastes. One of the first records of the name was William de Mohun of Dunster (c.1090-c.1155) who was a favourite of Empress Matilda, daughter of King Henry I, and a loyal supporter of her in the war against King Stephen. He earned the epithet the "Scourge of the West"and after the war, Empress Matilda granted him the title Earl of Somerset, in 1141. His father, William was Sheriff of Somerset in 1084.

One relatively recent invention that did much to standardize English spelling was the printing press. However, before its invention even the most literate people recorded their names according to sound rather than spelling. The spelling variations under which the name Dunster has appeared include Dunster, Dunstar, Dunstarr, Dunsterr and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dunster research. Another 113 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1609, 1659, 1640, 1618, 1684, 1660 and 1679 are included under the topic Early Dunster History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dunster Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


At this time, the shores of the New World beckoned many English families that felt that the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. Thousands left England at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. A great portion of these settlers never survived the journey and even a greater number arrived sick, starving, and without a penny. The survivors, however, were often greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. These English settlers made significant contributions to those colonies that would eventually become the United States and Canada. An examination of early immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name Dunster arrived in North America very early:

Dunster Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Henry Dunster, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1640
  • Henry Dunster settled in Cambridge Massachusetts in 1648
  • Tobias Dunster, who arrived in Virginia in 1663

Dunster Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Eliza Dunster, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1744
  • William Dunster settled with his wife Elizabeth in Baltimore in 1775

Dunster Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • John and Mrs Dunster settled in New York in 1820 with a child

  • Matthew Dunster, English Olivier Award nominated theater director, playwright and actor, an Associate Artist at the Young Vic theatre in London
  • Charles Dunster (1750-1816), British writer, and translator
  • Tommy Dunster, Argentine soap opera actor
  • Bernard Francis Dunster (1921-1995), Canadian gold medalist ice hockey player at the 1948 Winter Olympics
  • William Robert Dunster OBE (b. 1960), British architect
  • Robin Dunster (b. 1944), Australian chief of staff of the Salvation Army International, the first woman to hold the office

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    Other References

    1. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
    2. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    3. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
    4. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
    5. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
    6. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
    7. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
    8. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
    9. 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).
    10. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
    11. ...

    The Dunster Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Dunster 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 18 March 2014 at 08:29.

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