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Don Coat of Arms / Don Family Crest

Don Coat of Arms / Don Family Crest

The surname of DON (also spelt Down and Downe) was a locational name 'the dweller at the downs' from residence beside the sloping declivity. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. Early records of the name mention Gilbert de la Donne, 1273, County Yorkshire. Matilda de la Don was recorded in County Somerset, in the same year. May Downe of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Johannes Downe, 1379, ibid. Reginald del Downes was the Mayor of Macclesfield, East Cheshire in 1407 and Reginald Downes was the Mayor in 1445. Thomas Pollett and Misericordia Down were married at St. Antholin, London in the year 1703. The name was taken to Ireland by settlers and DON was derived from the Gaelic O'Dubhain. The name was anglicized to Dwane in West Munster, Divane in Kerry and as Downes, it is found in Clare and Limerick. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames: they came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. Early records of the name in Ireland mention John atte Doune, 1296. Reginald del Downes, 1496. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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