Select Dare Surname Genealogy

The Dare surname was Anglo-Saxon, but nobody today really knows what it meant.  Some have suggested that it described a person who acted like a wild animal - as its root was the Old English deor or dere meaning “wild animal.”  By contrast, the same word could have given us “dear” and meant beloved.

The first recording of the surname was Goduui Dere in the 1086 Domesday Book

Select Dare Resources on The Internet

Select Dare Ancestry

England.   Dare appears to have been at the onset a west country name.  The first sightings were in Somerset where Walter Dare was recorded in rolls in 1243 and Richard le Dare in 1327.

Somerset.  Thomas Dare was a prosperous Taunton merchant in Tudor times.  A later Thomas Dare was a prominent silversmith in the 1670’s who became involved in the Monmouth rebellion against the King.

“Thomas Dare, though of low mind and manners, had great influence at Taunton.  He was directed to hasten across the country to direct his friends that Monmouth would soon be on English ground.”

Dare was imprisoned in Ilchester jail for this involvement.  He managed to escape to Holland, but was later shot dead.

By the 18th century there was a pocket of Dares in villages near to Taunton at North Curry and Stoke St. Gregory.  John Dare married Mary House in North Curry in 1736 and Charles Holcombe Dare, born there in 1785, was a man of some local importance.  His grandson Sir Charles Dare was an Admiral in the Royal Navy.

However, there was a black sheep Dare in North Curry.  John Dare, together with his two brothers-in-law, was tried and convicted of highway robbery in 1839.  John, a widower aged twenty-nine, was transported to Australia on the Parkfield, leaving four children behind.

.  The Dare name also appeared at an early time at Lyme Regis in Dorset.  William Dare was recorded there as early as 1265 and the Dare name in Lyme Regis continued prominently until the 1600’s.

Gideon Dare was a yeoman farmer at Wootton Fitzpaine nearby.  However, he took part in the Monmouth rebellion in 1685 and ended up being transported to Jamaica.

.  The Dare name was also to be found in London and the southeast.

Ananias Dare was a tiler and bricklayer in London in Tudor times who might have come originally from Essex.  His father-in-law John White from Essex led Sir Walter Raleigh’s attempt to form a colony at Roanoke in America and Dare followed him with his wife in 1587.  They left a son John in London. 

A later Dare family held the Theydon Bois manor in Epping Forest, Essex from 1789 onwards.  This family subsequently became Hall-Dare.

There were Dares elsewhere.  In 18th century Gretton in Northamptonshire, several generations of a Dare family have been identified through the parish registers.  The first of these was Richard Dare, “a black man,” who married Ann Medwell in 1749.  This line continued in Gretton records until 1797 and then, for some reason, disappeared.

  The first Dare in America is something of a mystery.  Virginia Dare was born in 1587 at the Roanoke colony in present-day North Carolina, the first English baby to be born on American soil.  But no one knows what happened to her and to the other colonists.  Did they die or survive? 

There were two later Dare lines that came to America: 
  • James Dare from Berkshire arrived in Maryland sometime in the 1670’s.  
  • while William Dare from Dorset came to southern New Jersey around the year 1682. 
Interestingly, based on DNA testing, these two Dare lines were from the same male progenitor. 

James Dare was a prosperous planter in Calvert county, settling in the Lower Cliffs.  Many of his descendants were buried in the Middleham cemetery there. 

William Dare became a large landowner in Cumberland county, New Jersey.  His son William bought land near Bridgeton in 1710 where his descendants were to remain until 1867.  Other Dare branches moved elsewhere in New Jersey.  The Dare Family History was written by William and Nellie Montgomery in 1939.  The Dare Family Association has held a reunion each year for descendants of this family. 

There was another William Dare, possibly related to the Maryland line, who built the Blue Anchor tavern on the Delaware river in 1681. 

.  Dare Foods is a well-known cookie manufacturer in Ontario, dating back to 1892.  The company was founded then in Kitchener by Charles Doerr.  It has remained family-owned.  However, in 1945 the company and family name were both changed to Dare.  Bryan and Graham Dare are its co-chairmen today.

Australia.  Robert Dare from Northamptonshire was transported to Tasmania on the Mangles in 1835.  He married Susan Richardson there in 1845 and they had eight children, some being registered as Dear and others as Dare.

George and Billy Dare
from London arrived in 1838 at the very new colony of South Australia.  George later departed for New Zealand, but Billy stayed on and became a successful sheep farmer.  In 1849 Joseph Dare, a Methodist minister from Dorset, came to South Australia where he was an eloquent and popular preacher on the Adelaide circuit. He moved to Geelong, Victoria in 1860

Select Dare Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Dare Names

Virginia Dare, born in 1587 at the Roanoke colony in present-day North Carolina, was the first English baby to be born in America.
Zena Dare
, born Zena Dones, was an English singer who became famous for her performances in Edwardian musical comedy in the early 1900’s.
Dan Dare
was a British science fiction comic hero, appearing as Pilot of the Future in the Eagle weekly strip from 1950 to 1967

Select Dares Today
  • 3,500 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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