Dawson Surname Genealogy

The given name David, from the


meaning “beloved of Jehovah,” became
popular through the fame of St. David, the patron saint of Wales, and
several early Kings of Scotland of that name.
The pet form of David, Dawe, appeared in Lancashire in 1212 and
that form came the surname Dawson.
Dawson was a surname found in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Other patronymic names from David – such as Davidson and Davison –
turned up in Scotland and the Border country. Davies of course is
a common
Welsh surname.

Dawson Resources on

Dawson Ancestry

Dawson lines claimed descent from the time of William the Conqueror –
Dawsons of Spaldington in Yorkshire from the Norman adventurer Sir Marmaduke
and the Dawsons of Greystoke in Cumberland from
Archibald Dawson, a
Saxon lord at that time or somewhat later.
Were they real or imaginary figures? A more
creditable historical figure was Bertram Dawson of Greystoke who
accompanied the Black Prince to France during the wars there in the
mid-14th century.

One family line began with Roger Dawson who was born in Penrith,
Cumberland in 1531. He moved to Thanet in Kent when he was
a young man and his descendants remained there through fifteen

The largest number of Dawsons, however, have been in Yorkshire.
The first record of a Dawson was in fact that of Thomas
in the Wakefield manor rolls in Yorkshire of 1326. Dawson
sightings have been mainly in north Yorkshire:

  • the
    Dawson name began to appear in records in the Grewelthorpe area from the
  • Richard
    Dawson was recorded at Heworth in 1588. Later Dawsons of this
    family served in the army in India.
  • a
    Dawson family has held Langcliffe Hall near Settle since the 1660’s and
    still resides there. William Dawson of this family became a
    successful linen merchant in London in the 1760’s, married well, and
    resided in some splendour in Richmond.
  • the
    Rev. Joseph Dawson, a Unitarian minister, helped to found the Low Moor
    ironworks near Bradford in 1789. His grandson Christopher later
    came into possession of Weston Hall near Otley.
  • while
    was a well-known figure in Harrogate in the late 19th

Dawson, who became editor of The
in the inter-war years, was born in Skipton in north

Ireland. English
Dawsons have
been in Ireland since 1610:

  • The
    first arrival, from Sowerby in Westmoreland, came to Derry and
    purchased the
    lands of what was to be Castle Dawson in 1633. These
    Dawsons later settled in county
    Monaghan and became the Earls of Cremorne and Dartrey.
  • William
    Dawson arrived
    in Yorkshire
    a tax collector in the reign of Charles II. His
    son Ephraim acquired the Portarlington
    estate in Queens (Laios) county and the family was later made Earl of
  • another
    Dawson family
    came tot the Glen of Aherlow
    Tipperary in the late 1600's and remained landlords there until the
    early 20th

have been some Irish Dawsons in Donegal. The
name was adopted at the time of the Penal
Laws for some like-sounding Gaelic names.

Scotland. Davidson and
Davison have tended to be the spellings
in Scotland. But Dawson, possibly originally Deason, is to be
found – mainly in NE Scotland. The
Dawsons of Crombie were an old family from Aberdeen from whom Sir
William Dawson of Canada came
. Many Dawsons were
listed in
Strathdon parish in Aberdeenshire in the mid-19th century.


Charles Dawson’s 1874 book Dawson Family Records
provided an early and exhaustive record of early Dawson
arrivals, from New England to Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas.

According to family lore, four Dawson
brothers arrived in Virginia from Whitehaven in Cumberland sometime
around 1670. Being Puritan they were
classified as
dissenters. Therefore they departed for
Maryland where they made their home.
Descendants of the brother most tracked, John, fought in the
Revolutionary War and moved west, first to Ohio and then to Indiana.

Dawson was an Anglican priest and welcome in Virginia.
Thought to be from Cumberland, he arrived in
Virginia in 1735 and twenty years later became President of William and
College. But his position there soon
deteriorated due to his drunken habits.
Meanwhile Captain Anthony Dawson was in the Albemarle Sound area
North Carolina by 1693 and Dawsons were later recorded nearby in

There were Dawsons in Richmond
county, Georgia by 1780, either from Virginia or North Carolina. Dread Dawson left there for Alabama where he
had a large plantation and then moved onto what became Jasper county,
Texas. Brit
made the same journey as a young man and subsequently
became a large cattle rancher in Navarro county,

Dawson family of Greene
county, Georgia began with a British soldier who deserted and joined
American ranks during the Revolutionary War.
He and his wife Ruth moved to Greene county, Georgia soon after
it was
formed. Their son Thomas was born there
in 1794, the first white child in that county.
A younger son William C.

was a much respected US Senator for Georgia, after whom
Dawson county and the town of Dawson were named.

Canada. Thomas Dawson,
born and brought up in county Monaghan, came with his family to Prince
Island in 1801 and founded Dawson’s Grove by the head of the
Hillsborough river. He
did not last long in his new country.
But his family did and the Dawson name continues in
Charlottetown with
the Dawson house built there in 1852.

James Dawson had come to Pictou in Nova Scotia from Banffshire
in Scotland in 1811. He struggled with his early enterprises but
eventually was the proprietor of the local newspaper. His son
John William, born in 1820, became one of Canada’s foremost scholars
and Principal of McGill University in Montreal for some forty years;
while his son George achieved renown as a
surveyor and gave his name to
Dawson Creek in British Columbia and Dawson City in the Yukon.

Scots Dawsons, this time from Aberdeen, embarked for Montreal in the
1840’s. John Dawson eventually made his
home in
Williams county, Ontario. Benjamin and Janet
Dawson, also from the Aberdeen area, came to Niagara, Ontario
around 1850.

Australia and New Zealand.
In 1830 Elijah Dawson from Kent, leaving the British army, was a very
settler in the Swan river colony that became Western Australia.

the son of a well-to-do London draper, had married an Irish woman and
father had disowned him. So the couple
departed for Tasmania in 1833 with their baby daughter.

William’s brother drowned his father
wrote to him and forgave him, asking him to come back to inherit his
estate. But William had not forgotten
his hurt and refused to go.”

The family
later moved to Southland, New Zealand where William was the town
responsible for building many of the bridges in the locality.

A Dawson family on
North Island, near Auckland, began when a young cabin boy from Sweden
ship and landed on the Mahurangi East Peninsula sometime in the 1850’s. He took the name of John Dawson.
The Dawsons in the form of Brian Dawson, his
great grandson, are still there on Snells Beach.

Dawson Miscellany

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

Dawson Names

C. Dawson

was a US Senator from
Georgia in the 1850’s known for his courtly southern manners.

Sir William Dawson
a leading Canadian scholar of the mid-19th century who became the
Principal of McGill University in Montreal.

Geoffrey Dawson, born Geoffrey Robinson,
was the influential pro-appeasement editor of The Times
between 1923 and 1941.
Les Dawson
was a non-PC English comedian known for his podgy face
and jokes about mothers-in-law

Select Dawsons Today

  • 52,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 31,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 37,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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