The Meaning of DARTNALL
The name Dartnall is believed to have originated in Derkinghole, near
Leigh, Penshurst, Kent.
According to the publication A Dictionary of British Surnames,
a West Kent and Sussex name found as deDurkinghole in 1240 from a lost
place in Penshurst, now perhaps Doubleton's Farm.
This is a view in the vicinity of Doubletons Farm taken in 1999.
However, more recent research
reveals that the lost settlement of deDurkinghole may actually have
been located a few miles further north of Doubleton's Farm, at Little
Moorden in the Parish of Leigh, near Chiddingstone Causeway. This link
to Leigh is also noted in the The Origin of English Surnames, thus:
In and around Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, and at Bromley
and Bexhill-on-Sea, live a number of families named Durtnall, Durtnell
and Dartnall. The surname, also found occasionally as Darknell and Dutnall,
has been noted from 1240 and derives from a lost place, Durkinghole,
The most detailed work on the Dartnall family that I have come across
is contained in Lt.-Col. C.S. Durtnells book From an Acorn
to an Oak Tree A Study in Continuity. A copy of his book, and collection of working papers
relating to it, is held in the archives of the Centre for Kentish Studies
at Maidstone, Kent. The book is no longer in publication but if you wish
to read more about the Dartnall family and its origins a copy can be viewed
at the Centre for Kentish Studies.
Lt.-Col. Durtnell notes that:
"the family ERKINHOLD, dERKINHOLD, DERKINGHALL, de DARKINGHOLE,
DARKNALL, DARTNALL, DURTNELL and some other 30 other variations of the
has remained for over 800 years in the SEVENOAKS locality of
WEST KENT and we have an unbroken history since 1180. In addition, ERKINHOLD
records, very disjointed of course, may be traced back a further 500 years
to the year 658.
Geographical Movement of the Family in Kent 1200-1946 A.D.
Lt.-Col. C.S. Durtnells book contains a very useful chart indicating
the gradual dispersion of the family within Kent since 1200 A.D. For copyright
reasons, I cannot show it here. However, the pattern revealed is an initial
dispersion between 1200-1400 A.D. in Chiddingstone, Leigh, Otford and Penshurst.
This extended to Brasted, Staplehurst, Sevenoaks, Westerham and the neighbouring
County of Sussex from 1400-1600 A.D. then to Edenbridge, Hadlow, Keston,
Tonbridge and Tudley by the 18th Century.
The line of the family that can be traced to Brasted, including Lt.-Col.
C.S. Durtnell, has the distinction of being included in the Guinness
Book of Records as the oldest builders in England. The company, known
as R. Durtnell & Sons, has been in business as country builders in
Brasted for an unbroken period of more than 400 years since 1591. It has
achieved a reputation for quality craftsmanship and has carried out work
at a variety of prestigious locations, such as Buckingham Palace, the British
Museum, the Mayfair Hotel, the Royal Albert Hall, the Queen's House at
Greenwich and the Tower of London.
I am able to trace my own Dartnall/Dartnell/Durtnal/Durtnell family
ties back by direct descent to Edenbridge in the 1700s. My "earliest"
relative was James Durtnall who was baptised 15 June 1788 at Edenbridge.
James was a wheelwright. He married Mary Rivers 13 May 1820 at Horton
Kirby by Banns.
James, stylised as "James Dutnall", died from smallpox 8 May
1838 at Beesfield, Farningham. His age at death was recorded as 48 though
he was actually 50 years old based on his baptism date. His wife Mary was
present at death.
James and Mary had three children.
i. Mary Jane Dutnall was baptised 15 August 1822 at Eynsford.
ii. Thomas Dartnell was baptised 23 January 1824 at Eynsford; died 13 February
1902 at 11 St. John's Terrace, Sutton-at-Hone.
iii. Elizabeth Dartnall was baptised 9 November 1827 at Eynsford. She married
George Walklin 27 February 1864 in Horton Kirby Parish Church, son of Richard
Walklin and Sarah. He was baptised 25 September 1842 at Farningham.
I am the 6th generation descended from James Dartnall, through the line
of his son Thomas Dartnell.
The earliest evidence of a family Coats-of-Arms is to be found embedded
in the floor of Penshurst Church and dates back to the 15th Century.
Coats-of-Arms were awarded to the Darknall family in 1496 and the Durtnell family in 1946.
Dartnall Research Group
If you would like to do more research into the Dartnall family name and all its variants,
there is now a research group established on Yahoo! Groups. Membership is free but restricted to
those with genuine research interests. Contact me at
for further details.
 A Dictionary of British
Surnames, published in 1976. Author P.H. Reaney.
 Durtnall of Kent A Family
History, study in progress by M.J. Durtnell..
 The Origin of English Surnames, page
322. Author P.H. Reaney.
 From an Acorn to an Oak Tree
A Study in Continuity, published by Hooker Bros. of Westerham, Kent
in 1975. Author Lt-Col. C.S. Durtnell O.B.E.