Daniels Surname Genealogy

and its patronymic form Daniels derive from the Hebrew scriptural name
meaning “God is my judge.” Its long
as a name throughout Europe has come from the Biblical Book of Daniel
which described
how Daniel’s life was saved in the lion’s cage. Daniel
was also the name of a second century
martyr and a ninth century hermit, legends of whose life were popular
the Middle Ages.
Daniel grew in popularity
as a name in England after the Crusades of the 12th century when it was
brought back by soldiers
or pilgrims returning from the Holy Land.
Arnaut Daniels from Normandy was a troubador in the court of Richard
the Lion Heart around this time.

Daniel/Daniels Resources on

Daniel/Daniels Ancestry

Daniel and Daniels have appeared as surnames in various forms
throughout Europe. Today the Daniel name numbers some
20,000 in France and 10-12,000 in Germany; Daniels 4-5,000 in
Belgium. Both Daniel and Daniels appear in
England and America. But Daniels in each case is the more common.

England. Early spellings were various but probably
Danyell was the most common. The Danyell family of Cheshire
dates from the 14th and 15th centuries and was to be found at
Daresbury, Over
Tabley and Rydelegh. There were also Danyells at Walsoken in
Norfolk (and John Danyel a Norwich merchant and its mayor in
1406) and in London and Bristol at this time.

transition from Danyell or Danyel to Daniel
and later to Daniels began in the 16th century.
For instance:

  • Edward
    Danyell bought Newbury Manor in Flitton, Bedfordshire in 1524. His descendants there became Daniel.
  • John
    Daniell was a wealthy landowner in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire in 1522. His descendants too became Daniel.
  • and
    William Daniel, descended from the Cheshire Danyells, was born in
    Lancashire in 1623.

West Country.
The musical Taunton family in Somerset at that time were sometimes
sometimes Daniel – father John a music-maker whose “harmonious mind
made an
impression on his son’s genius,” his elder son Samuel a poet, and his
son John a lute player and songwriter.

showed a prosperous family of Daniels
Truro and Penzance
in the early/mid 1600’s and another Daniel
family at Zennor
(followers of John Wesley) at a slightly later date

Wales. The
surname Daniel (and
sometimes Daniels) was also to be found in Carmarthenshire and
Glamorgan in
south Wales. John Daniel established a
printing business in Carmarthen in 1784 and was made a freeman of the
town in
1800. Another John Daniel married in
some two
years later.

or Job Daniel who lived in Carmarthenshire around this time
to America. His grandson
Jack Daniel
founded the Jack
Daniel brand of whiskey in Lynchburg, Tennessee in 1875.
David Daniels was a police constable in
Llandeilo in the late 1870’s. His
grandson is the English TV magician Paul Daniels.

The Daniel name also cropped
up in Glamorgan. A Daniel family were
seafarers and shipowners out of Penygraig and then out of Morfa Borth
near Cardiff from
the late 1700’s. H.W. Harrison’s 1995
book Daniel Family History covered
the main Daniel Glamorgan lines.

America. Daniels came first to New England.

New England. Robert Daniell and his
family from Suffolk
were part of the Puritan exodus to the Massachusetts Bay Colony that
in the 1630’s. They came to the
Watertown settlement along the Charles river in 1636. Robert’s
descendants in Medfield and Medway
became Daniels. One branch of the family
moved to Vermont in the 1770’s and then to Ohio in the 1840’s.

William Daniel
was first recorded in Massachusetts when he married Katherine Greenway
Dorchester in 1645. They settled in
Milton and William ran the first tavern there.
Later Daniels (the name also became Daniels) were to be found in
London, Connecticut and nearby Salem.
This line was covered in James Daniels’ 1952 book The
Daniels Family.

The South. There were
a number of early
and noteworthy Daniels in Virginia
in the 17th

One line began with Captain William Daniel who was first
recorded in
Middlesex county, Virginia sometime in the 1650’s. These Daniels
became a distinguished Virginia family. Their numbers included:

  • Peter
    V. Daniel, a Supreme Court Justice from 1841 to 1860
  • and
    that unreconstructed Democrat John W.
    Daniel, the Virginia Senator from 1891 to 1910
  • while

    branch of the family migrated to Kentucky in the 1790’s. Henry
    Daniel was elected a Congressman there and later became a successful
    horse breeder.

Daniell, the son of a
London ship-owner, came to Charleston, South Carolina on his ship Daniell in 1669 and stayed. He
was active in various military expeditions
against the Indians and Spanish and was in later life was Governor of
Carolinas. He died in 1718

William Daniel
was recorded in Halifax county, North Carolina in the 1760’s. From his line came John Reeves Daniel, a
lawyer and politician in North Carolina during the 1840’s
and 1850’s. His son Junius was a
Confederate Brigadier General who died of his wounds during the Civil
in 1864.

from Ulster arrived with his family at Roanoke island
off North
Carolina in 1784. The line through his son
Clifford ran to Josephus Daniels, a ship carpenter at Wilmington who
was killed
on a steamship in 1865 at the end of the Civil War:

  • his
    son Josephus, just three at the time,
    grew up to be a prominent newspaper editor and publisher in New
    Carolina before
    he was appointed by President Wilson to be the Secretary of the Navy
    World War One.
  • and his son Jonathan was also
    a newspaper editor and writer

Both were fans and
supporters of FDR and the New Deal.

Other Daniels.
Some Daniels came to America from Germany and France and also from
Ireland (where their Daniels name was probably a corruption of the
Irish McDaniel or McDonnell) and even a few from Scotland. The
actress Bebe
was born into a Scottish family, her father having
changed his name in America from
MacMeal to Daniels.

Caribbean. John Daniell,
shipwright, appeared in Barbados in 1655. Some have linked him
with either the Danyells of Cheshire or the Daniells of
Charleston. The Barbadian historian Peter Campbell
speculated as follows:

“My guess is that Robert
Daniell of South Carolina was a brother or cousin of John Daniell of
Robert probably stayed with John Daniell on his way to South Carolina
in 1677
and again when he paid a visit to Barbados in 1679.

Whatever his origins he was the forebear of the
Bristol-based Daniel
family of West India merchants
. His great grandson
Thomas acquired the Sunbury plantation in Barbados in 1835 and
re-established the family presence on the island.

New Zealand
. In 1880, at the age of 24,
Daniell emigrated from Gloucestershire to New Zealand and was
one of the
first settlers of Masterton in the Wairarapa region.
He set up a timber mill and then a hardware
store and designed and built many of the Wairarapa’s large homesteads
and farm
buildings. Such ventures meant that Daniell was the largest employer in
Wairarapa for many years. The local
historian Tim Shoebridge described his life in his 2009 book The Good Citizen – The Life of C.E. Daniell

Daniel/Daniels Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Daniel/Daniels Names

Samuel Daniel was the English poet of the early 1600’s who was for
a short time poet laureate.
Jack Daniel
was the
American distiller in Tennessee who founded the Jack Daniel whiskey
in 1875.
Bebe Daniels
was an American
actress, singer and dancer of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
George Daniels who died in 2011 was a contemporary
watchmaker by hand, considered to be the best in the world during his
Jeff Daniels
is a well-known American
actor and playwright

Select Daniel/Daniels Today

  • 33,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 69,000 in America (most numerous in Florida)
  • 19,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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