Day Surname Genealogy

The surname Day has uncertain and possibly various origins
which may apply in different places. There are two main

  • Day can be an abbreviation of David, as in the Welsh Dai
    (and thus Day may
    have Welsh origins
    ). The Irish pet form of David was
    Daidh. This became the sept name O’Deaghaidh and later, anglicized,
    sometimes Day.
  • or Day may derive from the Old English names Daei,
    Daeghbert or Daegmund from the Old English daeg meaning “day.”

A third explanation, suggested by the surname scholar
Reaney, that Day comes from the Old Norse deigia meaning “female servant”
seems less likely.

Day Resources on

Day Ancestry

origins may explain the name Morgan Daye or Day. He was born
around 1370 in the village of Wrockwardine in Shropshire and was the
forebear of the Days found in that county. Later Days of
this family included:

  • the
    brothers George and William Day who became Bishops of Chichester and
    Winchester in 1543 and 1595 respectively. The elder George had
    the harder life as he was a Catholic sympathizer and was deprived of
    his bishopric in 1551.
  • and
    Francis Day, thought to be William’s grandson, who went out to India in
    1632 and was an early factor for the East India company in

East Anglia
Day was also a name to be found in East Anglia.
Perhaps the earliest record was John Day, a Provost at Cambridge
University in 1467.

In Norfolk, the son of Walter Day, a farmer at
Crawston near Norwich, was the Jacobean playwright John Day, born there
in 1574. Later Days of this village were
brewers and
publicans at the White Horse until their
sale in 1794 after the death of John Day.

In Suffolk, the Elizabethan printer John Day was thought to have come
from Dunwich. A line of Days at Little Waldingfield began with
the birth of Timothy Day there in 1752. Henry Thomas Day, the
rector at Mendelsham, was related to the Day horseracing family of
Stockbridge in Hampshire.

Recently, the Day population in England has been more concentrated
around London and SE England.

Ireland. Days
in Ireland may be of English or Irish
origin. An early English family from
Essex came to Tralee in county Kerry in 1622.
Judge Robert Day built Day Place, a fine row of Georgian houses
Tralee, around the year 1800.

Other Days
were Anglican clergymen, from the Rev. John Day, rector of Tralee in
1750’s, to the Rev. John Godfrey Day of Valentia Island, Kerry in the
1800’s. Edward Day of this family joined
the British army and settled in Australia in 1835 where he became a
police magistrate.

The Irish O’Deaghaidh
clan, based originally in county Clare, became with the English
sometimes O’Dee, sometimes O’Day, and sometimes Day outside Clare.

America. Early Days in
America came via New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. However,
the main entry point appears to have been New England.

New England
Robert Day arrived in Massachusetts in 1634 and was
one of the original proprietors of Hartford, Connecticut.
Descendants have included:

  • Benjamin
    from Hebron, Connecticut, whose 1810 Bible has been
    handed down through generations.
  • Jeremiah
    from New Preston, Connecticut, who was President of Yale
    College between 1817 and 1846.
  • and the Days from
    Springfield, Massachusetts, whose numbers included Benjamin Day, the
    of the
    penny-press New York Sun. His son Benjamin
    devised the Ben-Day colored dot printing process which became the
    hallmark of the American artist Roy Lichtenstein.

early Day in New England was Anthony Day who came to Gloucester,
Massachusetts in the 1640’s and lived onto 1707, dying there at the
grand old age of ninety one. His descendants settled in
Connecticut. Deacon Noah Day moved onto Granville in upstate New
York in 1792 and his descendants, who based themselves in Ohio, became
a prominent legal family – starting with Luther and continuing with son
William Rufus and grandson William Louis Day.

A third New England line began with Mordecai Day who was born in
Mendon, Massachusetts in 1730. His grandson Daniel established
one of the oldest woollen mills in America in 1809. Daniel
and his family were close to the Taft family who also had their roots
in Mendon and would later produce an American President.

Judge Joseph Day
a wealthy plantation
owner in Macon, Georgia, was the descendant of 17th century Day
into Pennsylvania. His position
suffered during the Civil War and he died soon after.

Ireland provided over time
about 30% of the Days and O’Days in America.
An early example was John Day, thought to have been Scots Irish, who was born in
Virginia around 1770 and made his living as an early hunter and fur
trapper in
the American West before settlers had begun to arrive there.

“In 1811 he was
reported as being robbed and stripped naked by Indians on the banks of
Columbia river. A year later, after his
companions had returned East, he was said to have gone mad there.”

His name
lives on in Oregon in the John Day river and the towns of John Day and

Daniel O’Day from Clare was an early settler in Clark county, Missouri
in the 1850’s. Another Daniel O’Day was
one of Pennsylvania’s independent oil refiners in the 1880’s. But perhaps the best known O’Day in America
was the 1930’s jazz singer Anita O’Day.
Her real name though was Anita Colton.
She said she changed her name to O’Day because it was pig Latin
dough, i.e. money.

Canada. George Day,
a naval surgeon, had acquired land in Falmouth township in Nova Scotia
1760. His son John traded between
Halifax and Boston for the British army, but was lost at sea while
enroute to
Boston in 1775. His grandson John served
in the Nova Scotia provincial assembl

Edgerton Day, born in 1863, was the son of Scottish
immigrants who had settled in Inverary, Ontario where they ran a hotel. He headed west as a young man and was an
early settler in what became the province of Alberta.
In 1904 he completed plans for a town on the
railroad, now called Daysland, in present-day Flagstaff county.

Australia. John Day was tried and
convicted in
Staffordshire and transported to Australia on the Baring
in 1815. He later
became a farmer in the Hawkesbury river area of NSW.
His sons George and James prospered in the
Victoria gold boom. George moved to
Albury where he became its mayor and involved himself in local politics.
James Day came out to
Western Australia on the Eliza as a
young man and free settler in 1831, marrying two years later in
Fremantle. He died there in 1858.

Day Miscellany

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

Day Names

John Day was a 16th century Protestant printer who found fame as the
publisher of John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.  
Benjamin Day was an American newspaper
publisher best known for founding in 1833 the New York Sun,
the first penny press newspaper in the United States.
, born Doris Kappelhoff, was
a popular American film and TV singer and actress in the 1950’s.
Robin Day

was a British political broadcaster of the late 20th century,
considered the
most outstanding television journalist of his generation.

Select Days Today

  • 39,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 38,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 30,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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