We are often asked, “what’s the origin of the name ‘Dowgill House’”?

An unusual name, only a dozen or so exist in each of the Leeds and Bradford phone books. Strangely enough, Tim played rugby league with one of them many years ago.

Recorded as Dougill, Dowgall, Dowgell and Dowgill, this is almost certainly an English locational surname from the area around Ripon, North Yorkshire.

Although there does not seem to be a place spelt specifically as Dowgill its origins probably stem from a local variation of the place name Dallowgill, a ‘lost’ medieval village. There is a Dowgill Farm located between Pateley Bridge and Ripley which claims to date back to 1679.

An alternative theory is that it is a corruption of the Scottish surname Dougall.

The Dowgill surname is barely recorded outside Yorkshire although Dowgill is recorded in the various surviving church registers of the City of London in Elizabethan times. Early examples of recordings include William Dowgill, who married Mary Langley at the church of St Mildred, Poultrey on 23rd May 1576 and another early example is Richard Dowgill who married Barbary Thompson at Ripon Cathedral on July 17th 1588.

Investigation into why this building is called Dowgill House today is a study we have yet to make any real progress with. The etched glass above the front door is recent and no deeds we have (our collection dates back to 1845) refer to the building by anything other than house number.

Three letters and date are inscribed in the lintel stone above the front door


This, by convention, would be the initial of the surname of the person who commissioned the building followed under with the initials of the first names of the couple that commissioned the building

At least six other buildings in Otley have similar, three letter and a date, lintel date stones but each with different initials.

Another of Dowgill’s many mysteries…