Recorded in many spellings including Danet, Donat, Dunnett, (English & Scottish), Donnet (French), Donati, Donativo, Donatelli (Italian), Donate (Spanish), and many other, this is a surname of English, Scottish, French, and Italian origins! It has not surprisingly number of possible origins. The most likely on the continent is from the Roman (Latin) word "donatus" meaning to give. It is said that the name was very popular with early christians either because of the birth of a much wanted child, or because in turn the child was donated to god. The name was born by several early saints, most of whom were martyrd by various Roman Emperors who for for number of reasons found Christianity an unsettling experience. However if Scottish the name can be locational from Dunnet, a village near Thurso, with Dunnet Head being the most northern point of the mainland. The name may also be English and again locational from Donhead in Wiltshire, the name meaning the top of the down. Lastly the origination could have been a nickname for someone with dark hair or a swarthy complexion from "dunn", meaning dark-coloured, and the suffix "-ett", from "petit" meaning small. Recordings in surviving church registers include Robert Donnett christened on January 7th 1592 at St. Andrew's Holborn in the city of London, Vita Rosa Donati, of San Valentino, Pescara, Italy, on June 18th 1683, and Pasqual Donate of Santa Maina Alpera, Spain, on August 3rd 1742, and in Italy The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the wordl may be Walter Dunheued. This was dated 1201, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Somerset, during the reign of King John of England, 1199 - 1216. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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