By Don Taylor
According to Forebears, dyrling was an “Old English term used to denote the young noble of a house, perhaps exclusively the eldest son, on whom all expectations rested.” Later it became a family name[i]. Ancestry reports that the name is English and Scottish and derives from deorling meaning “beloved one” or as a derivative form of deor (dear)[ii]. In either case, it became a surname before 1500.
The Darling surname is most common in the United States and England with nearly half of all people with the Darling surname living in the United States. In terms of frequency, it is most common in Canada with 1 in 13,078 people in Canada having the surname.[iii]
The 1920 census indicates that the greatest number of families with the Darling surname were New York, Michigan, and Massachusetts. During the 1880 Census, the greatest number of Darling families were in New York and Massachusetts. Finally, the 1840 Census indicated most of the Darling families lived in New York[iv].
That pattern follows my wife’s ancestors nicely. Her Darling ancestors came to the Colonies in the mid-1600s and settled in Mendon, Massachusetts. They relocated to Eastern New York (Dutchess County) about 1740. They continued west and settled in Oneida County, in western New York about 1800. They lived in Monroe County, NY, in far western New York, for a short time as well. They moved further west again to settle in Kalamazoo, Michigan about 1845.
Other Darling family members located in Missouri and some continued out west to California. Whenever I hear about the migrations west, I think about my wife’s Darling family being clear representatives of the time.
It is not clear when Mary-Alice’s earliest known Darling ancestor came to the Colonies.
But, her 7th great-grandfather, Dennis Darling married Hannah Francis in Braintree, MA in 1662.[v] By 1678 they had moved 40 miles west to Mendon, MA.[vi] His son Benjamin was born and died in Mendon, but his son, Ebenezer, migrated to the Beekman Patent land in New York before 1740. His son, Abner, moved west to Oneida County about 1800. Abner’s son, also named Abner, moved further west to Monroe county, NY about 1830. His son, Rufus Holton, moved on to Kalamazoo, Michigan, about 1844. Rufus’ son, also named Rufus, was born and died in Kalamazoo.
Rufus Harry was a railroad man. Besides Kalamazoo, he lived in Chicago, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh; his son Robert was born when Rufus was in the Pittsburgh area. Robert died in Michigan.
Direct Darling Ancestors
|# 006 – G||Robert Harry Darling||(1905-1969)|
|# 012 – GG||Rufus Harry Darling||(1857-1917)|
|# 024 – 2nd GG||Rufus Holton Darling||(1815-1857)|
|# 048 – 3rd GG||Abner Darling (Jr.)||(1780-1839)|
|# 096 – 4th GG||Abner Darling (Sr.)||(1747-1800)|
|# 192 – 5th GG||Ebenezer Darling||(1718-1790)|
|# 384 – 6th GG||Benjamin Darling||(1687-1772)|
|# 768 – 7th GG||Dennis Darling||(1640-1717)|
My records have 233 direct-line descendants of Dennis Darling identified in my family tree, which is about 8% of my total Howell/Darling ancestors.
[ii] Internet: Ancestry website – Darling Family History. See: https://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=Darling
[iii] See note i above.
[iv] See note ii above.
[vi] Doherty, Frank J., Darling Family, The – Settlers of the Beekman Patent, The, Files, 0 – Introduction – Dennis Darling (c. 1640-1717).