Durnell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Durnell is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name was taken on by someone who worked as a grower of darnel, a plant believed to induce intoxication. The name's origins are Old French; darnel is the French name for this plant. It was brought into England by the Normans after the Norman Conquest of 1066. [1]

Occupational names frequently were derived from the principal object associated with the activity of the original bearer, such as tools or products. These types of occupational surnames are called metonymic surnames.

Occasionally the name was local; there is a Darnall in Yorkshire, and a small group of people took their name from that location. [2]

Early Origins of the Durnell family

The surname Durnell was first found in the West Riding of Yorkshire at Darnell, a hamlet, in the parish and union of Sheffield, S. division of the wapentake of Strafforth and Tickhill. Darnhall is a township in Cheshire, 6 miles from Middlewich and this township may also be the origin of the name. [3]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed Agnes Darnel, Suffolk; Henry Darnel, Cambridgeshire; and William Darnel, Huntingdonshire. Later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included Thomas Darnal and Roger Dernele as holding lands there at that time. [4]

However, we must look to the aforementioned Suffolk to find the first record of the family; for it is there that Goduine Dernel was listed c. 1095. Later, Godwin Darnel was also listed there in 1177. Tomas Darnele was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk in 1193. [1]

Early History of the Durnell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Durnell research. Another 122 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1095, 1177, 1193, 1379, 1638, 1604, 1645, 1711, 1605, 1675, 1683, 1689, 1706, 1672, 1735 and 1710 are included under the topic Early Durnell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Durnell Spelling Variations

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, French and other languages became incorporated into English through the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Durnell include Darnell, Darnall, Darnoll, Darnel, Darnal, Darnol, Darnhill, Dartnall, Dartnell and many more.

Early Notables of the Durnell family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Sir Thomas Darnell, 1st Baronet (died c. 1638), an English landowner, at the centre of a celebrated state legal case in the reign of Charles I of England, often known as the "Five Knights' Case" but to the lawyers of the period as "Darnell's Case." Philip Darnall (born 1604), was an English barrister; and his son, Colonel Henry Darnall (1645-1711), emigrated to North America to become a wealthy Maryland Roman Catholic planter, 3rd Baron Baltimore...
Another 82 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Durnell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Durnell family

A great wave of immigration to the New World was the result of the enormous political and religious disarray that struck England at that time. Families left for the New World in extremely large numbers. The long journey was the end of many immigrants and many more arrived sick and starving. Still, those who made it were rewarded with an opportunity far greater than they had known at home in England. These emigrant families went on to make significant contributions to these emerging colonies in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers carried this name or one of its variants: Thomas Darnel, who arrived in Maryland in 1684; Richard Durnel, a bonded passenger who arrived in Barbados in1669; Mr. & Mrs. H. Darnell who arrived in San Francisco California with 2 children in 1856.


Contemporary Notables of the name Durnell (post 1700) +

  • Walter W. Durnell, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Missouri, 1912 [5]

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Norman Francis Durnell, British Able Bodied Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse (1941) and died in the sinking [6]


The Durnell Motto +

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: Deus nobiscum
Motto Translation: God be with us.


  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 4) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  6. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html


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