Dorn Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History


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The name Dorn is Germanic in origin. It is derived from the medieval German “dorn” which translates to thorn, it would have been applied to someone who lived near a thorn bush or hedge. In this context it would have been considered geographical. There are also several place which were located in Germany that were called Dorn, it is believed the name may have also been applied to residents of these locations, as well.

The variations in the spelling of the surname includes; Dorn; Dorns; Dorne; Doorn; Doern; Dorner; and Dornes among others. The variations in spelling of surnames dating back to ancient times can be attributed to a lack of consistency regarding guidelines for spelling in use by the scribes who recorded such information, many of which were in the habit of spelling phonetically. The issue of multiple spellings of names in records was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time.

Surnames were rarely if ever used in ancient Europe. In the small settlements and villages which existed during earlier times in most of Europe, residents found little need for surnames as everyone in these communities knew each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, as communities grew and people began to migrate on a larger scale, along with the need of the government having a reliable way to track people for tax and census purposes, the aristocracy’s penchant for using surnames seemed the appropriate evolution to this problem. In most instances to distinguish themselves, one from another, those not of the noble class would often be identified by their given name plus their occupation while others may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent’s names.

There was a boundless supply from which surnames could be formed, in addition to the use of patriarchal/matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupation, there were things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individual’s home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Over the course or time, surnames would come not just to represent an individual but whole families.

One of the earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of William Thorn which appears in the Sussex tax rolls from 1206. The tax rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King John. These documents, the oldest dating back seven hundred years to the 12th century, are considered the oldest continuous set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom.

The task of record keeping was primarily the responsibility of the churches, priories, and government as literacy was often a skill found only among the wealthy, the clergy, and those in government. For practical purposes, governments found the use of surnames made the recording and tracking of people for census, taxation, and immigration purposes easier.

One of the first recorded immigrants to America bearing the surname was William Dorn who arrived in 1635 and settled in Virginia. Lazarus Dorn arrived in 1710 and settled in New York, NY.

There were also immigrants to the British Commonwealth countries of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand bearing the surname Dorn. William Dorn landed in 1784 and settled in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Dorn are found in Germany, Austria, the United Stated, Slovenia, and Canada. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Dorn live in Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

There are many persons of note who bear the surname such as German born Friedrich Ernst Dorn. He was a noted physicist and was the first person to discover the element radium emitted the radioactive substance radon.

Canadian born, Walter A. Dorn, is a scientist researcher, educator, and author. He is an instructor at the Canadian Forces College and the Royal Military College of Canada where he teaches military officers and civilians.

Belgian born, Gerhard Dorn was a philosopher, physician, translator, alchemist, and bibliophile. Dorn was an often quoted inspiration to psychologist, Carl Jung.

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

(London). Ar. two bars wavy gu. on a chief purp. as many eagles’ heads erased ppr. Crest—A stag’s head erased ppr.

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