There exists today a city in Germany with the name of Datteln with a population of scarcely 37,000 inhabitants. It lies in the North Rhine-Westphalia region about 6.8 miles (10.8 km) North East of the city of Recklinghausen. in 1997 the city celebrated it’s 850th anniversary and the local newspaper the Datteln Morning Post published an article describing the city’s origin.
The first documented mention of Datteln was in the Papal Bull of Pope Eugene III. On June 17, 1147 Pope Eugene III, confirmed for the Abbot Gerlach and the Abbey Deutz, their deeds of farms, churches and chapels. In these deeds are mentioned the churches of Buer, Datteln and Waltrope. At this time however Datteln was a village and the name was “Datlen”. In other sources the village was named as “Datlio” or “Dattellen”.
Etymological interpretations of the name explain that “Lo” or “Len” part of the name means forest clearing and the “Date”, “Dati”, or “Dato” part is the personal name of the owner. Hence DATLEN can be interpreted to mean the forest clearing belonging to Dato.
Scepticism about this definition was expressed, however by genealogist Robert von Malottki. For example, it was known there were noble family groups “von Dati” and “von Datteln”. With “von Dati”, I can even provide a crest. Also the entire papal bull should be translated.
It was a coincidence that Robert v. Malottki during research came upon the von Datteln family name. In the German Lexicon of Noble families, Prof. Dr. Ernst Heinrich Knetschke von Datteln, explains them as nobel families known in Prussia. Arnold von Datteln was the 1458 Administrator, (chief clergy) of the cathedral of Frauenburg.
I contacted Robert von Malottki, the genealogist who was behind the research and entered into a dialogue with him. Robert lives in Datteln and was able to confirm that he had documentation from 1147 which gives mention to the town of Datteln but it is wriiten as Datilo and Dattelen. He went on to say that the Datlen line was of noble lineage and a coat of arms existed which is somewhere in the “Herald’s Literature” and for a cost he could get a researcher to find it and send me a colour copy. As the cost was far too high I declined the offer.
It would seem unlikely that the Datlen’s of today had any connection to Dato or Datteln. They are seperated by over six hundred years of history and 20 generations have come and gone before the arrival of Johannes Datlen to England about the year 1800. It has been hinted that a family bearing the Datlen name may have once belonged to the area that is now Datteln but this family has long since died out. I beleive that the connection is purely coincidental and the recent revival of the Datlen surname has come about because of the corruption of a name, most probably Dietlein, which was the result of an immigrant’s foreign accent when he settled in England at the turn of the 18th century.