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Ancient History and Origin of the Surname DARLING

The distinguished surname DARLING is one of the most notable Anglo/Saxon surnames, and its historical trait has emerged from the mists of time to become an influential surname of the middle ages and of the present day.
In an in-depth research of such ancient manuscripts as the Doomsday Book compiled in 1086 AD by Duke William of Normandy, the Ragman Rolls (1291-1296) collected by King Edward 1st of England, the Curia Regis Rolls, The Pipe Rolls, the Hearth Rolls, parish registers, baptismal, tax records and other ancient documents, researcher found the first record the name DARLING in Derbyshire where they were seated from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hasting in1066 AD.

Confusing to most, we found many different spellings in the achieves researches. Although your name, DARLING, occurred in many manuscripts, from time to time, the surname was also spelt DARLIN, DERLING, DARLINE, DERLINE, DERLIN, DRYLING, DYRLING and these changes in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. There is one record, a father and eight sons. In the graveyard where they are buried, all nine have different spellings of their surnames. Many reasons were revealed for these spelling variations but mainly church officials and scribes spelt the name as it was told to them.

The family name DARLING is one of the most notable of the Ancient Anglo/Saxon race. This founding race of England, a fair skinned people led by the Sax General/Commanders Hengist and Horsa, settled in Kent from about the year 400 AD. The Angles, on the other hand, occupied the eastern coast.

The Anglo-Saxon five-century domination of English society was an uncertain time, and the nation divided into five separate kingdoms, a high king being elected as supreme ruler.

By 1066 King Harold came to the throne of England which was enjoying reasonable peace and prosperity. However, the Norman invasion from France and their victory at the Battle of Hastings, found many of the vanquished Saxon land owners forfeiting their land to Duke William and his invading nobles. They became oppressed under Norman rule, and some moved northward to the MIDLANDS, LANCASHIRE, YORKSHIRE and even into SCOTLAND.

The family name DARLING emerged as a notable English family name in the county of DERBYSHIRE where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated at DARLING with manor and estates in that shire. This ancient family was recorded in the Saxon Chronicle when AELFMAR DYRLING, a Saxon noble, was mentioned with deeds of valour sometime about the year 850 AD. The family gravitated town LONDON about the 13th and 14th century and became prominent businessmen. They also branched north to SCOTLAND and settled in ROXBURGHSHIRE and were also businessmen of ABERDEEN and EDINBURGH. In SCOTLAND they were well known ecclesiastics from about the 15th century when Sir JOHN DYRLING was Precentor of Caithness. Several others of the family were notable clergy. Meanwhile in England General SIR RALPH DARLING was knighted for his military exploits.

For the next two or three centuries bearers of the surname DARLING flourished and played a significant role in the political development of England. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries England was ravaged by religious and political conflict. Puritanism, Catholicism, Royalist and parliamentary forces shed much blood. Many families were freely "encouraged" to migrated to IRELAND, or to the "colonies". Some were rewarded with grants of land, others were banished.

In IRELAND settlers became known as the Adventurers seeking land in IRELAND. Called "undertakers" they undertook to maintain the Protestant faith. In IRELAND they settled in DUBLIN and also became numerous in the BELFAST area later in the 17th century.

Meanwhile, the New World beckoned and migration continued, some voluntarily from IRELAND, but mostly directly from ENGLAND or SCOTLAND, their home territories. Some clans and families even moved to the European continent.

Kinsmen of the family name DARLING were among the many who sailed aboard the armada of small sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships were pestilence ridden, sometimes 30 to 40% of the passenger list never reaching their destination, their numbers reduced by sickness or the elements.

Principal amongst the settlers which could be considered a kinsman of the surname DARLING on a variable spelling of that family name was FRANCIS DARLING who settled in Virginia in 1654. GEORGE DARLING settled in Boston in 1651; another GEORGE DARLING settled in Virginia in 1774; RICHARD DARLING settled in Virginia in 1651 with his wife Ruth.

The trek from the port of entry was also arduous and many joined the wagon trains to the prairies or to the west coat. During the American War of Independence, many loyalists made their way north to Canada about 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.

20th Century notables of the surname DARLING, include many distinguished persons. BARON DARLING of HILSBROUGH; PROFESSOR ARTHUR DARLING; GENERAL DOUGLAS DARLING; GERALD DARLING, educator; HENRY DARLING, educator; SIR JAMES DARLING; SIR KENNETH DARLING Commander in Chief.

During the course of the research we also determined the many Coat of Arms matriculated by the family name. The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms found was; Blue with gold drops and on a gold horizontal stripe three red crosses. The crest was; a female figure holding in the right hand a cross and in the left hand a book.


The Scottish surname DARLING is of nickname origin, being one of those named based on a personal or physical characteristics of the original bearer. In this case it is derived from the Old English term "dyrling" or "dearling", literally, "little dear", used either for the young noble of a house, perhaps exclusively the eldest son on whom all expectation rested, or for a person who was dearly loved by his friends and family. In the former case, the term "cild' meaning 'child' was similarly used.

Identified with TWEEDSIDE and MIDLOTHIAN from the 14th century, early recorded instances of this surname include a reference to Waldevus DARLING or DERLYNG, a charter witness in ROXBURGH circa 1388, and JOHN DERLING and ANDREW DERLING, burgesses of EDINBURGH in 1381. STEVYNE DARLING, JOHN DARLYNG and NINIAN DARLING witnessed the resignation of a teu (ie a possession held on payment of a certain yearly rent in grain or money) in Peeebles in 1471, while DEM ELEN (Dame Elena) DARLING, a religious of NORTH BERWICK, is on record in 1544 and 1548. Finally, a Mr. ROBERT DARLINE was a minister at Esw in 1733. A family of this name were tenants under the money of MELROSE, latterly as tacksmen (ie holders of a lease) and feuers.


BLAZON OF ARMS: Azure guttee d'or on a fese of the last three crossed crosslet fitchee gules.

 Translation: The background colour azure (blue) denotes loyalty and truth. The cross is representative of the Christian Faith.

CREST; A hand holding a heart proper.

MOTTO: Dei Donum Translation: The free gift of God.


Transcribers note: Many Coat of Arms have been found for the surname DARLING. The one I was sent, three shells sit upon a back ground of red, green and grey/silver, they are lined horizontally down the front. In the upper right and lower left corners are a red star. The head is Knight crowned by rubies and laurel, a lions head sits atop him. The motto is FRANGAS NON FLECTE.

Another I've seen is very similar to this but the shells are replaced by Cauldrons and woman's hand extends from the Knights Head, holding a torch. The motto (translation) is Aye, Be Honest.

Family Name History---DARLING as provided by The Historical Research Centre.

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