The name Dowding is derived from the Old English forename Dogod with the patronymic suffix "-ing" ("son of").   Dogod comes from the old verb "dugan", meaning to avail, or to be of use.  In England the surname is chiefly found in Gloucestershire and Somerset, where members of the Dowding family farmed in the Westbury on Severn area from 1700 or earlier.  Dowdeswell near Cheltenham has the same origin, and the earliest recorded form of the placename is "Dogodeswellan", meaning "Dogod's stream".



The starting point of our Dowding line is Edward Dowding, who married Elizabeth Miller on 27 May 1722 in Stalbridge, Dorset.  They had no less than 15 children, all christened at Stanton St Quintin, Wiltshire:


1.   Mary Dowding

2.   Elizabeth Dowding

3.   John Dowding

4.   Edward Dowding

5.   Sarah Dowding

6.   James Dowding

7.   Ann Dowding

8.   Dorothy Dowding

9.   Elizabeth Dowding

10. James Dowding

11. Thomas Dowding

12. Margaret Dowding

13. Elianor Dowding

14. Rebecca Dowding

15. Samuel Dowding
















(died young)

m. Elizabeth Boy, 1766

(died young)

m. Mary Sainsbury, 1761

m. Susanna Horsman, 1757

It is unlikely that all the children survived to adulthood, but apart from the line followed here, we know that John Dowding married Elizabeth Boy at Stanton St Quintin in 1766 and had two daughters, while Thomas Dowding married Susanna Horsman in Tormarton, Gloucestershire in 1757, and founded a family which continues to the present day.


Edward Dowding died on 4 August 1743.



Edward and Elizabeth’s tenth child, James Dowding married Joanna, and settled over the border in Gloucestershire.  They had two childen, christened at Great Badminton:


1.  Elizabeth Dowding

2.  James Dowding



After Joanna’s death, James married Mary Sainsbury on 3 December 1761 at Great Badminton, and had eight more children, also christened at Great Badminton:


3.   John Dowding

4.   Sarah Dowing

5.   Ann Dowding

6.   Samuel Dowding

7.   George Harris Dowding

8.   Matthew Dowding

9.   Samuel Dowding

10. Edward William Dowding









m. Sarah Chapman , 1792

(died young)

m. Abiah

m. Sarah Smart

George Harris Dowding and Abiah had five children, including the patriotically-named Joseph Trafalgar Dowding, born in 1806 - the same year as the battle.  Matthew Dowding and Sarah Smart's six children had a large number of descendants, although once again, those lines are not followed here.



James and Mary’s oldest son John married Sarah Chapman on 18 October 1792 at Sherston Magna, Wiltshire.  John was a reasonably wealthy man, owning land in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, and he probably lived off the income from his property.  He and Sarah lived in Gloucestershire, and had nine children.  The first five were christened at Great Badminton, and the younger children at Dodington.


1.  Louisa Dowding

2.  Frederick Dowding

3.  Anne Dowding

4.  Isabella Dowding

5.  Charles Dowding

6.  John Dowding

7.  Charles Dowding

8.  Juliana Dowding

9.  Edwyn Dowding










m. William Tayler, 1815

m. John Baldwin, 1839

m. Lucy Ann Broughton, 1848

m. Robert Berwick Were, 1863

John made a will on 28 October 1891, and added a codicil on 27 November 1825, shortly before he died.  In this will, among other bequests, he left £500 to his married daughter, Louisa, and instructed that the same sum should be paid to Isabella and Juliana when they married - provided that the executors approved of their chosen husbands! 


Charles Dowding was the only male of this generation to marry.  He entered the Church, and was curate of Lidgate, Suffolk in 1840.  He married Lucy Ann Broughton on 2 November 1848 in London, and by 1851 was curate of Steeple Langford, Wiltshire, where he remained until about 1860.  He then became rector of Priston, Somerset until his death in 1863.  He and Lucy had six children, and the family was evidently quite well-off: three sons lived off their private income, while the other two were a sollicitor and a doctor.



Edwyn Dowding studied law like his oldest brother Frederick, and joined him in practice in Bath.  Frederick was a person of some importance in the community: in addition to being at various times a magistrate and an alderman, he was Mayor of Bath from 1849-1850.  (A portrait of him hangs in the Council Chamber in Bath Guildhall.)  Frederick died unmarried in 1861 in Walcot, Bath.


After Frederick died, Edwyn became the senior partner of the firm Dowding and Byrne, listed at the same Vineyards address where he and Frederick had lived and worked.  The Bath Post Office Directory for 1864/65 lists Edwyn as a director of the New Theatre Royal, while Messrs Dowding and Byrnes are the solicitors of Bath Ladies’ College.  Edwyn owned 10 acres of land in Bath, which probably provided him with further income in addition to his earnings as a solicitor.


Edwyn was named as her husband by Harriet Louisa Jones, a Bath saddler's daughter when she registered the births of her five children, although there is no record that any marriage ever took place.   In addition, they are recorded living separately on census returns, where Harriet uses the surname James.  Circumstantial evidence suggests that Edwyn and Harriet maintained a discreet relationship for over 20 years, prevented perhaps from marrying by the rigid Victorian class system.


Edwyn died in Bath on 15 May 1872 at the age of 61.  The cause of death is given as “softening of the brain” - today this would be called a stroke.

If you have any queries, corrections, or information to share about any of the people mentioned here, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Ditchfield | Dowding | Goodwin | Gosling | Gregory | Griffin | Hallett | Hallworth | Hinton | Jackson | James | Johnson (Cheshire) | Johnson (Shropshire) | Jones | Massey | Miller | Moores | Potts | Sorton | Wharington