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Dunsfort Parish, County Down


Borrowed from Dunsforth in Yorkshire, England


Dunsfort is the name of both this parish and of a townland in it. The name of the church of Dunsfort is recorded as Ecclesia de Dunseford as early as 1178, in a charter of Nendrum Abbey (Charts Nendrum 191), which makes it one of the earliest attested English place-names in Ireland. It is recorded as Ecclesia de Dunesford in the Taxation of Pope Nicholas (EA 36). Dunsfort takes its name from Roger de Dunsforth or Dunsford - i.e. Roger from Dunsforth in the West Riding of Yorkshire - one of John de Courcy’s knights, and one of the benefactors of the monastery of Nendrum after it was reconstituted as a cell of St Bees Abbey in Cumberland, dependant on St Mary’s Abbey, York (see O’Laverty i 175).  The Yorkshire Dunsforth is recorded in the Domesday Book as Dunesford and means 'Dunn's ford', where Dunn is a personal name (Ekwall 1960, 154)Since the name was imported from Yorkshire to Co. Down, it does not relate to any ford or other feature in the landscape at Dunsfort. The present Church of Ireland church of St Mary occupies the site of the Norman church in the south of the townland of Dunsfort.


PMcK, 2009; with additions PT, 2012.

Additional Information

See the townland of Dunsfort for historical forms of this name

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Donsport1622Ulster Visit. Reeves 35
Donsport1622Ulster Visit. Reeves 39
Dunsford1657Inq. Down (Reeves1) 123
Dunsfort1755Map of Down (OSNB) 173
Dunsford1788cGravestone Inscrip. (Down) viii 44
Dunsford1790Return Free. (DF) 16
Dunsfort1810Wm. Map (OSNB) 173
Dunsfort1834cJ O'D (OSNB) 173
Lecale Lower
Parish in 1851
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