Robert Elgar Datlen


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The Origin of the Datlen Name
Report by Andy R Datlen - ”The Datlen Family Tree” (first edition)
Originated March 1999    Last reviewed May 2000

When I first started the Datlen Family Tree in August 1987, I saw that Adam (II) Datlen (b 1800), and Robert Datlen (b 1804) are shown as brothers (with a question mark) on the Robert Terry Datlen Family Tree. Therefore I created Adam and Robert's parents whose names were then unknown, birth dates circa 1775, to begin the overall family tree.

Then, lo and behold, the father of Adam and Robert showed up. Kathleen Bell sent a copy of an 1841 census to Helen-Carter Datlen in 1997 which shows an Adam Datlen being 74 years old at that time. He is listed as the father of Adam and Robert, and he was married twice, once to Martha, and then to Susannah. It is interesting in that the 1841 census flags Adam Datlen as being foreign born.

So I called the father Adam I, and the son Adam II.

Although Robert & Adam's father is the earliest known record of a DATLEN in the researched records so far, I found on the Internet, among some genealogy papers, a reference to a Susanna Datlen marrying a Peter Holmes at "St., Mary, Sandwich" in 1655. There are two rows, and the type column is listed "M" on one row, and "Banns" on the other row.

Here is my Uncle Evan (died in 1987) Datlen's theory on the origin of the name Datlen:
(From synopsis By William Evan Datlen, enclosed with letter to Andy Datlen dated July 30, 1969)

"According to records I (William Evan Datlen) unearthed at Dover 50 years ago the name was spelt something like Deitland, and that the Datlens or Deitlands came to England as invaders, the Danish invasion was 797 AD."

On the other hand, my 3rd cousin Robert Terry Datlen (died in 1970) had the following to say about the Datlen and many other names:

Origin of name Datlen/Datlin in doubt and at October, 1963 still await Vicar of St. Mary-the-Virgin, Dover, who promised Lucy Datlen (n. Arthur) to search for parents of Robert and Adam.
Reverend S.P.H. Statham in his book of 1899 - History of Dover and Castle, states "Foreigners from Flanders entered England (through Dover) in large numbers in reign of Edward III - towards the end of his reign 1327-1377". See Page 88. Many strangers entered Dover after loss of Calais by Queen Mary I Tudor in 1558, and also came with mercenaries from Armies of Duke of Marlborough who also landed at Dover 1714.
In Dover today are Datlen, Maslen, Cullen, Allen, Pullen, Sellen, Bullen, Dallen, frequent family of Daillon, and others no doubt. Wehlen, Nowlen, Aylen, Catlin, Gamlen, Bill Meillen of BBC. Lyons history of Dover (1813) P78. John Pullen, Beadle of the Court of Dover Priory. Henry Maslen kept "Liberty Inn", Last Lane, 50 years to 1940?
Some Mayors in Reverend Statham's book - from 1258 to 1899 - lists Thomas Collen 1641, 1642. William Cullen 1651, 1652 (Thomas), 1657, 1658. Richard Cullen 1678, Nicholas Cullen M.P. 1679-1682. In 1678 Richard Cullen and Aaron Wellard were among Jurats who elected Captain William Stokes as mayor. The Datlen's, Stokes, Mayors & Freemen, Willis, Brisley, Prescotts, Hedgecocks famlies are related. In Reverend John Lyon's, "History of Dover" P121, Nicholas Cullen, Merchant, left by Will of A.D. 1699, a small tenement for use of the poor."

Discourse on the origin and history of the name Datlen, in what appears to be a fourth page of the Robert Terry Family Tree, circa 1963

Here is more about the Datlen name taken from the cover sheet of the Robert Terry Family Tree:

Genealogical Table

Compiled 1963-1966 by Robert Terry Datlen
52 The Gateway, Dover

Sometimes in 19th & early 20th century spelt -
Early 1900's a member of family said name formerly D'Atalen. Various suggestions over the years have been put forward ~ name and place of origin. In book Place Names of Kent by J. K. Wallenburg - printed Upsala 1934 (Dover Public Library Ref 929-H) Old English Saxon & Germanic origin & similar names on Continent ~ Detlinges 1066-1087, Detlinge 1210-12, Detling 1240, De Detling 1264, Detteling 1279. In book Freeholders & Knights of Shire - County of Kent is Philip Detillin of Wrotham, Kent, 1754. House & Land - his own - P192.

And yet there is another theory from my 4th cousin, William (Bill) Datlen, in a letter he wrote to me on November 17, 1998:

"I am replying rather quickly because I have just read something in a book called "Stalingrad" by Anthony Beevor, on page 180 the name of a Russian N. K. V. D. Captain caught my eye, Captain D. DYATLENKO, the DATLEN incorporated in the name seems very unusual? If you can go into your library or a book shop and check the bottom of page 180."

And again Bill wrote in a letter dated December 7, 1998:

"What did you make of the Russian Major D. Dyatlenko, surely there must be some connection? If you get hold of the book, Stalingrad, by Antony Beevor, check pages 378, 379, 388, 389, 391, I told David about it on the phone and he said he would check it. I have thought of writing to the Russian Embassy in London, but I thought, even if we made contact, there would be the language problem."

I myself have found on the Internet today many people of Russian origin with the name DATLENKO, without the Y.

Then Ruth Datlen (Alexander) wrote in February 2000:

"We were always told that Datlen was originally Danish, but a Norwegian man I met said that there were many more in Norway."

So we have a number of possibilities here.

  1. The "foreign born" Adam Datlen came to Dover in the late 1700's and anglicized his name from whatever it was to Datlen, creating the first instance of the name. However, that flies in the face of the mystery genealogical document which has a Susanna Datlen marrying a Peter Holmes in 1655.
  2. The Datlen name, probably with several spelling variations, was around before Adam arrived, and as Robert Terry theorizes, was one of many 'len type of name such as Cullen, Pullen, etc. Adam, when he arrived in Dover, may then have taken on one of the Datlen variants and used it thereafter. However, thus far, every single Datlen in the world since Adam's time has been traced back to Adam. You would think that surely there should be Datlen descendants around today which are traceable back to Datlens prior to Adam's arrival in England. So far, none have been found.
  3. The Datlen name is an Anglicization of a number of possibilities of continental names such as D'Atalen, Detlinges, Detling, de Detling, Detteling, or Detillin
  4. The Datlen name is of Danish origin, as William Evan theorizes, possibly coming from a name like Deitland. However, because the main Danish influx came many centuries earlier, why have no Datlen's been found anywhere in history prior to Adam (except for the tantalizing Susanna in 1655).
  5. The Datlen name is of Russian origin, having been anglicized by dropping the last syllable. Could Adam's original last name have been Datlenko? Somehow I think that this is probably a coincidence, and that the two names are similar because of parallel evolution, as they say in the paleontology business.

One day I am sure the mystery will be solved. As more and more genealogical records are becoming electronic, and available for searching on the Internet, other examples like the Susanna Datlen of 1655 will come to light.

If any Datlen around Kent has the time or the inclination, one fruitful area of research would be to search the birth, marriage, and death records originating in the Church of St. Mary, Sandwich around the mid-1600's to see if the existence of Susanna Datlen and the Datlen-Holmes marriage can be substantiated.

From here I will continue to chase down every Datlen that I can find who I do not already know about (I have found a few in the UK in Internet white pages), and see if they can or can not be traced back to Adam's descendants.

We either have to find positive proof of Datlen names preceding Adam, which will open up a whole new area of exploration, or continue to show that all Datlens today are clearly traceable back to Adam.


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