Dodd Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Dodd Meaning
The medieval personal name Dodde
or Dudde, in frequent use
until the 14th century, was the source of the Dodd surname. The
name may come from a Germanic root used to describe something
round and lumpish – hence a short, plump man. It appeared early,
before the Norman conquest. Aelfweard Dudd was recorded in the
early charters of Hampshire around 1030.

Dodd and Dodds
are the main surname variants. Dodd is more
numerous today.

Dodd Resources on

Dodd Ancestry

The surnames Dodd and Dodds have somewhat different geographic origins.

NE England. Dodds was an
English border name
. Seventy percent of the Dodds in
England in the 1891 census in England were to be found in the two
counties of Northumberland and Durham.

Dodds in its history has been primarily associated with
Northumberland. The Dodds of Northumberland were
one of the four major Border clans
of North Tynedale. Burbank Peel, a fortified tower on the Tarset
Burn near Bellingham, was their ancestral home. Documentary
evidence shows the Dodds had already established themselves
in that area by the end of the 14th century. Later the name
extended south to
Durham and north across the border into Scotland.

NW England. The
surname Dod or Dodd, dating back to the 12th century, was first
found at Edge near Shropshire and Cheshire on the border with
Wales. The
Rev. John Dod
of Shotwich in Cheshire was a popular
someone born in 1549 who lived on to witness the Civil War. Since
that time this Dodd name has radiated outwards, north into
Lancashire, south into Staffordshire, west into Wales, and also further

Elsewhere. One
Dodd family traces itself back to William Dodd, a tavern owner in
London during the Restoration period. A century or so later there
lived in London Robert Dodd, a painter and engraver, and his brother
Ralph Dodd,
an engineer remembered uncharitably at the time for his failure
to build a tunnel under the Thames.

William Dodd from Lincolnshire was an 18th century Anglican
who lived extravagantly. He was nicknamed the “macaroni
parson.” In an effort to clear his debts, he dabbled in
forgery, was caught, convicted, and,
despite a public campaign for a royal pardon, became in 1777 the last
person to
be hanged at Tyburn for forgery.

Wales. Charles Dodd was a schoolmaster in Wrexham
in north Wales in late Victorian times. He had three notable sons
who each became highly prominent in their chosen academic field: A.H.
Dodd the historian; C.H. Dodd the New Testament scholar and Protestant
theologian; and P.W. Dodd the classicist.

The Dodd name
was taken to Sligo in the 16th century by a Shropshire family.
Thomas Dodd of Sligo emigrated to Canada in the 1860’s.
members of the Dodd family lived in the Masonic Lodge in Sligo as
its caretakers since its opening in 1895.

Ulster the Gaelic O’Dubhda
sept sometimes adopted Dodd as the anglicized form of their name,
instead of the more usual Dowd. In 1890 the Dodd name in Ireland
was principally to be found in Down and Armagh.

America. John Dods
was one of Captain John Smith’s original colonists at Jamestown in 1607
and one of only three who were still there in 1623. His
descendants in Virginia and West Virginia became Dodsons.

Another Southern Dodd family began with Michael Dodd who was born in
in 1779 but migrated as a young man to Missouri and then to
Arkansas. David Dodd of this family was a 17
year old who was tried, convicted and hanged as a Confederate spy in
the Civil War during the Union occupation of Little Rock. To
Southerners he was the boy martyr and boy hero of Arkansas.

The first Dodd
to arrive in New England was probably James Dodd from Sussex, aged
onboard Winthrop’s vessel the Abigail
in 1635. Daniel Dod from Suffolk came to Branford, Connecticut
ten years later in 1645. This family name changed to Dodd in the
late 18th century.

Irish. Thomas
Dodd was born in Connecticut
in 1907 from grandparents who had immigrated from Ireland in the
He was a lawyer who made his mark in the Nuremburg trials after World
War Two and subsequently became Senator of Connecticut. His son
Christopher was to serve for five consecutive terms as Connecticut’s

Canada. Local tradition
in Cape Breton has it that Archibald Dodd was born into a
wealthy family in Northumberland. But he came to Cape Breton in
1787 to escape a troubled past. Although a divisive man in his
manners, he would play a key role as a lawyer and a politician in the
early history of Cape Breton, at that time a separate province of
Canada. His son and grandson followed in
his footsteps.

Australia. William Dodd,
a blacksmith from Warwickshire, was an early settler in South
Australia, arriving there in 1839. Oral family history recalls that
William had wanted to be a preacher but his parents were too poor to
support him through ministerial training. Two Dodd family bibles
are treasured heirlooms of his descendants in Stansbury, South

John Dodds came out with his parents from Durham in 1853. They
settled in Tasmania and John, who became a lawyer, rose to be the Chief
Justice of the colony.


Dodd Miscellany

Northumbrian Origins.  Legend has it that the Dodds were descended from Eilaf, an Anglo-Saxon monk who
was one of
the carriers of St Cuthbert’s coffin who fled from Lindisfarne at the
time of
the Viking raids in the 9th century.  It was said that Eilaf
pinched some
cheese from his fellow monks who prayed that that the culprit be
revealed by
turning him into a Dodd – a fox.  Prayers were answered and for a
while Eilaf was turned into a fox.  From that day on Eilaf and his
descendents were known as Dodd.

Dodd and Dodds in 1891

County (000’s) Dodd Dodds Total
Northumberland    0.8    1.5    2.3
Durham    0.6    2.1    2.7
Yorkshire    0.6    0.5    1.1
Lancashire    2.0    0.2    2.2
Cheshire    1.7    0.1    1.8
Staffordshire    0.9     –    0.9
Elsewhere    6.1    0.6    6.7
Total   12.7    5.0   17.7

Dodd and Dodds Today.  Dodd
and Dodds are the main surname variants.
Dodd is more numerous today.

Numbers (000’s) Dodd Dodds Total
UK    21    13    34
America    10     3    13
Elsewhere    12     7    19
Total    43    23    66

The Rev. John Dod of Shopwich.  The Rev.
John Dod was in his nineties when he suffered the following indignity:

the Civil War, the Rev. John Dod
dealt with the inhuman treatment of the King’s party who proceeded to
rob him
of all his possessions except one sheet that he managed to sit on while
King’s men looked for other loot.  He was near death at the time
and took
glory from having robbed the robbers.”

John Dods of Jamestown.  John Dods was among the original 104 settlers of Jamestown with
John Smith in 1607.   He was recorded there as
a laborer, aged 18.

at Jamestown he
went to visit Powhatan at Werowocomoco and, during his visit, was said
to have built
a house for Powhatan.  This house is
believed to have been of the same ‘mud and stud’ type of dwelling that
has been
found at Jamestown and was unique at that time to the area of east
in England.

Dods survived the harsh
early years and was recorded in the tax list of James City in 1623.  He was one of only three of the original
settlers still alive at that time.  By
that time he had married a local Indian woman. They
were to have two children, Jesse and
William Dodson, and possibly more.  The
Dodsons of Virginia and West Virginia trace from this family.

Ralph Dodd and His Thames Projects.  Ralph Dodd, a marine painter turned engineer, was the first
in 1799 to promote a tunnel under the Thames. He
had in fact two schemes, one to construct a tunnel linking Gravesend
and Tilbury and the other to dig a six mile canal across the marshes to
river Medway.

The canal project did
proceed and by 1801 some four miles of the canal to Higham had been
built.  However, Dodd soon departed the
scene and it
was not until 1824, some twenty three years later, that the canal was
completed.  By
that time the Napoleonic
Wars were long over and the military needs for the canal were no longer

Work on the tunnel was started.  But lack
of money and flooding meant that the
project had to be abandoned.  The project
was taken up again by Marc Isambard Brunel and his son in 1824.  It took eighteen years of struggle, using
engineering techniques that were at the very limits of available
technology at
the time, before the tunnel was completed and opened.

Archibald Dodd of Cape Breton and His Family.  In 1775 Archibald Charles Dodd had married in England a woman
named Bridget, who, he later claimed, was a bigamist. She in turn
stated that
he had left her when her money was gone and that after she had refused
proposals for divorce they had agreed on his paying her an annual
allowance.  These payments continued for
many years.  However, in 1812 Bridget Dodd
claiming that he had deserted her.  She
persisted in her suit and even put together a petition in 1818, but
nothing came
of it.

In 1787 Archibald had left England for Cape
Breton in Canada.  One year later, he had
married Susannah Gibbons, daughter of the Chief Justice of Cape Breton,
and his
political career there was underway.  Archibald
and Susannah were to have eleven children.

His oldest son, Edmund Murray Dodd, was Sydney township’s
first elected representative and later served as a judge of the Supreme
of Nova Scotia.  In turn, his son, Murray
Dodd, became a Conservative MP for Sydney and also a judge.  Meanwhile, two of Archibald’s other sons,
John and Phillip, became superintendents on Scatarie and Sable islands.  Allison Mitcham’s 1989 book Island
told their story.



Dodd Names

  • Lottie Dod was, in 1887,
    the youngest woman ever to win the Wimbledon ladies tennis
    championship, at the age of fifteen.
  • Sonora Dodd was
    responsible for the founding of Father’s Day in America in 1910.
  • Johnny Dodds was an acclaimed jazz clarinetist of the 1920’s.
  • Thomas Dodd was US Senator for Connecticut in the 1950’s during the McCarthy era.
  • Ken Dodd is a popular English
    comedian from Knotty Ash in Liverpool.

Select Dodd Numbers Today

  • 34,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 16,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 19,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Dodd and Like Surnames

Nicknames must have been an early feature of medieval life in a family or community as these nicknames later translated into surnames.  People then lived a more natural life than we do today and the surnames have reflected that.

They could be about color (Brown, Gray, Green etc), whether of hair or complexion or other factors; mood (Gay and Moody are two extremes); youth (Cox and Kidd); speed of foot (Swift and Lightfoot); and actions (such as Shakespeare and Wagstaff).  Then there were likenesses to animals (notably Fox and Wolfe but also Peacock) and to birds (Crowe and Wren for example).  And then there were some extraordinary nicknames such as Drinkwater and Wildgoose.  Here are some of these nickname surnames that you can check out.




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