Surname Saturday: Doolittle


The surname Doolittle is of Norman origin and gradually Anglicized over time.  One of the members of William of Normandy’s expedition was named “Du Litell” or “de Dolieta” (which meant “of Dolieta” a location along the Normandy coast).  Rudolph of Dolieta, the Norman nobleman is likely the progenitor of most, if not all, Doolittles in England.

In the fourteenth century, mention is made of Robert Dolittel who received a royal pardon.  In the sixteenth century, records mention the names “Dolittle”, “Dolitell”, “Dolitill”, “Dolitle” and “Doolitlie”.  In the early seventeenth century the name “Doolittle” begins to appear.  Anthony Doolittle, a glover, was married and had three sons and mentioned as an “honest and religious” citizen.  His son Thomas was ordained as a Presbyterian minister, and a non-conformist which would be later be referred derisively to as “Puritan”.

Some sources suggest that “Doolittle” was an English nickname for a lazy man.  However, the man featured in today’s article was undoubtedly not lazy.  He appears to be the first Doolittle to immigrate to New England and is considered the progenitor of most of the Doolittle family in America.

Abraham Doolittle

Abraham was born in either 1619 or 1620 and possibly a descendant of Reverend Thomas Doolittle.  Abraham married Joane Allen (or “Alling”) and soon afterwards set out for New England.  Records indicate Abraham’s presence in Boston in 1640, but he like many others, heard good reports of the fertile lands in what would become Connecticut.  Sometime before 1642 the couple arrived in New Haven and built a home.  (Note: Although I use the evolved surname of “Doolittle”, Abraham actually used “Dowlittell” as noted in early colonial records.)

AbrahamDoolittleSigAbraham quickly established himself as a well-respected citizen.  In 1644, although he was perhaps just twenty-five years old, he was appointed the chief executive officer of the colony.  Not only did Abraham deal with issues of concern to his fellow colonists (land, trade, public defense), he also had dealings with the Indians.  His participation in New Haven civic affairs was notable as well – according to one historian when an individual of that day was prominent in public affairs it was guaranteed that he was of the highest moral character and an asset to his community.

His wife Jane died and in 1663 he married Abigail Moss, the daughter of John Moss.  He and John Moss would later participate in the founding of Wallingford, Connecticut.  It is believed that Abraham was the first white man to explore the land beyond the Quinnipac River.  Wallingford was incorporate as a town on May 12, 1670.

Again, Abraham plunged into the civic affairs of his town, appointed to almost every position available in the town over the next twenty years until his death in 1690 – including treasurer, surveyor of highways and selectman.  In 1673 he was appointed sergeant of the “first traine band” and thereafter bore that title.  On February 15, 1675 he was appointed to a committee which would found the town’s first Congregational church.

Records indicate that Abraham served his community continuously until just before his death on August 11, 1690.  His grave stone is still standing and quite interesting – a stone about four inches thick and perhaps a foot high and wide, which has his initials, age and date of death etched on it.

AbrahamDoolittleGraveTheophilus Doolittle

Theophilus was the youngest son of Abraham and Abigail Doolittle, born on July 26, 1678 in Wallingford.  Theophilus was only twelve years old when his father died and when he became of age he received his share of Abraham’s land, becoming a farmer.

On January 5, 1698 he married Thankful Hall, daughter of David and Sarah Rockwell Hall.  Theophilus and Thankful named their children: Thankful, Sarah, Henry, David, Theophilus, and Solomon Doolittle.  Interestingly, the name Thankful was carried forward as Thankful Doolittle married Timothy Page and they named on of their daughters Thankful, who married Asher Thorpe – and of course, one of their daughters was named Thankful Thorpe.

I  believe Thankful is quite possibly a distant relative of mine (note:  as with the Tombstone Tuesday articles, I usually just pick a random surname to research).  Although I haven’t traced out the entire Hall line, the information so far seems to point to my ancestors as part of the line descended from John and Jane Woollen Hall of England who immigrated and settled in Wallingford, Connecticut.  Thankful’s father David was a son of John and Jane Hall.


  1. Thank you so much for your writing about the Doolittle family. My mom and dad divorced when I was really young. We never knew him. My dad was William Henry Doolittle and supposedly his dad my grandfather was Gen Jimmy Doolittle’s cousin. I think their dad’s were brothers how true I don’t know because I don’t even know my grandfather’s name. Anyway this means alot.

    Judith Faye Doolittle

    • So glad you enjoyed the article. I love when people stop by and are touched in some way by something I’ve written. Do you know approximately when your father was born?

      • Hello Sharon, Do you know i forgot about this. I just shared this with my middle sister Buna Frances Doolittle and Brenda Loraine Doolittle. I have written out our names because like you said this is history and one day my grandchildren’s children’s children and on.One day they may want to do a genealogy on our Doolittle family and of course by your grace of sharing and your hard work some of it is done for them You must be a relative of the Doolittle family are you were a Doolittle. You don’t know how much I enjoyed reading this. I am glad to hear that the Doolittle family was was hard working and honest because of our name. lol. You sure did a lot of research. I have a group on Facebook called Where Are You. What I do is search for a members family or friends they have lost contact with. I did it for free since 2013 but I had a fire and for the last few months have been asking for donations. Of course they don’t have to donate I am just asking them to help me. The fire damage was terrible and I lost a lot of things. On top of that I had to pay for the damages to my apt. I was frying some chicken tenders and forgot about it for a minute and in that minute wow there was a big blaze. But with the kindness of the members donating slowly but surely I am getting things back in order. If you don’t mind me asking what state do you live in? I am from Houston, Texas born and raised. Your question when my dad was born I believe it was 1918. I would have to look it up I know he died a day before my birthday Nov 18, and I cannot remember the year. Isn’t that awful don’t even know when your dad was born are died. We never had any contact with him until I was in my middle 20’s. He didn’t like kids I could just tell. Well I am sorry for taking up your time I just got to writing and didn’t realize how much I have written. Well it was nice of you to write about us and I cannot believe there are not more Doolittle’s commenting. Maybe my sisters will. Bye for now I am putting my email below.

  2. I wrote to you I hope you received it. I am testing to see if this does the same thing. I didn’t log in last time will you tell me if you got my first text. It acting like it was going through but came back with the comment gone. So I will see if this one stays or goes Thanks

  3. Well that answered my question lol. I had told you how grateful I am for you taking your time to write about the Doolittle family. Are you a Doolittle? I know your last name is Hall so was your family a Doolittle. I have shared this with my two sisters I am putting their whole name because like you said this is going to be history and my grandchildren’s children’s children and on down the line may want to know about us. My middle sister’s name is Buna Frances and my little sister is Brenda Loraine and of course my name is above. This is so interesting, I am glad our family was hard working people and held office. Looks like they were religious too. I have a group on Facebook called “Where Are You” what I do is search for members in the group family and friends they have lost contact with. Maybe and old high school boyfriend or girlfriend. That is how I got the group started is searching for my high school sweetheart Johnny Lee Martin. I was so in love with him he lived with his grandmother and I lived with my grandmother also. He wouldn’t go to school and started misbehaving and she sent him back to California to live with his dad. We were so sad at least I was when he left. I was 14 and he was 15. I was depressed for days. Years went by and soon I forgot about him. Once in awhile I would smile and think about him wondering what he was doing. I turned 23 and was married one day my grandmother called and told me to come over quick. I had asked her what’s wrong grandma she said it is an emergency just get here quick. I was so worried I jumped in my car and rushed over her house which was about 30 mins away. Pulled in the driveway hardly turned the car off and ran in through the back door in to the kitchen. I thought I was going to faint. There he was Johnny. Yes he came back to get me to go back to California. We talked for hours sitting in my 1969 Volkswagen. lol Then it was time to go I had to get home before my husband got home from work. We kissed goodbye and I thought well this is it I will never ever see him again. Then years went by again I would think about him from time to time. Now I am 63 and all of a sudden I started thinking about him constantly everyday. I even told my daughter I don’t know why but I can’t get him out of my mind. I didn’t know why it was weird. So I decided to find him and I couldn’t he wasn’t on Facebook and I couldn’t find a number anywhere. He had a sister name Darla we also went to school with I didn’t know this because she lived with another family. But she was adopted here in Houston and stayed.Your not gonna believe this but I was new to Facebook and didn’t know we had another inbox for people not friends on Facebook. Would you believe his sister Darla had left me a message asking me was I the Judy her brother went with all at this same time. So somebody upstairs was helping me find him.She had a little information on Johnny that he had a son now but she had not talked to him in years. A lady name Elisa Belle an admin from a group called Search Squad joined my group. She is the one who found Johnny’s son. His son was on Facebook and I sent him a text asking about Johnny. Everybody told me to leave Johnny alone he is probably married and that I might start trouble but I texted his son anyway. I got a text back and he said yes Pop he called him Pop remembers you and this is his phone number. He also said he was single and living with him. I was relieved about that. Anyway I had his phone number and I was so nervous to call him I thought about it for a couple of days. I mean what do you say after 45 years and by the way I was divorced. So one day I sat down and called him he answered with a Hello ! and would you believe it when I started to talk I was so nervous I choked on my spit. There he was on the other end saying Hello, Hello Hellooooo!!! and here I am choking to death on the phone. Finally I managed to get the words out it is me Johnny, Judy. Anyway we talked for a long time. He told me he had stage 4 cancer but was taking treatments and should get better. So we talked and texted for a few months and had planned to go to Sturgis for the motorcycle thing. Johnny loved Harley’s so much he named his son Harley. We were gonna go in August of 2015. I was to fly to California and we would drive there. Well one day he called me and told me he don’t think were going. I said why and then he told me. He only had a few months to live the Dr told him the treatments were not working. Now I know why God helped me to find him because I had been so in love with him. I really believe it was divine intervention because me thinking about him all the time after 45 years and his sister texting me and me checking my other inbox was divine intervention. I truly believe it was so I could say goodbye to someone who meant so much to me when I was young. What else could it be. Anyway Johnny died Dec 1, 2015 his birthday was days away. I guess it was not meant for us to be together but at least I got to talk to him. I do not know why in the world I told you all of this. I was going to erase it thinking she is going to think I’m crazy. Oh and my dad I think he was born and this is terrible not knowing his birthday I believe is 1918 because my mother was born in 1926 and he was about 7 years older than her. So would that be correct.? Thank you so much for your hard work I shared this with a couple of my Doolittle cousins that we just got to know. Sorry for the long text. Don’t be mad. I just thought you would like reading this since you were into history I hope ??? lol

    • Thanks for sharing. So sorry to hear about your friend’s passing. In answer to your question: no I’m not a Doolittle, but I write about them 🙂 Many times I just picked the surnames randomly thinking they would make an interesting article. Turns out most of the time they were kinda interesting (at least I think so!). Again, thanks for stopping by and for sharing the article with your family and visiting Digging History.

  4. What do you know of a man named Golden Doolittle? Born 1896 or 1897 no one is really sure. He was my great grandfather. But I know no information other than that

    • I haven’t specifically researched Golden Doolittle. Is that all you know of him? Do you know anything of his parentage? According to his WWII Draft Registration he was born in 1896. Lots of information on Golden at (requires a subscription).

    • I have all the Doolittle Geneology books dating back to early 1900’s… I can try to look it up when I return home on business.



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