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Origins Available: English, Irish, Scottish


The lineage of the name Thornton begins with the Anglo-Saxon tribes in Britain. It is a result of when they lived in the parish of Thornton in the county of Yorkshire. Thornton is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. During the Middle Ages, as society became more complex, individuals needed a way to be distinguishable from others. Toponymic surnames were developed as a result of this need. Various features in the landscape or area were used to distinguish people from one another. In this case the surname Thornton was originally derived from the Old English terms thorn meaning thorn bushes and tun meaning enclosure or town. Therefore the original bearers of the surname Thornton were named due to their close proximity to the village where the thorn bushes were plentiful.

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The surname Thornton was first found in Cheshire where the founder of the family was Peter Thornton, Secretary to the Blundells. Thornton in Lancashire is home to another branch of the family. "In the Testa de Nevill is mentioned Matilda de Thorenton, who was at the king's donation, but unmarried. In the 17th of Edward II., half the town of Thornton was held by William Banastre, and the other moiety by Laurence de Thorneton, a descendant probably of the above-named Matilda." [1]CITATION[CLOSE]
Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
Another branch of the family was found in Arrow(e) in Cheshire from ancient times. "A moiety of the manor was in the Thornton family in the reign of Edward II., and passed by successive female heirs to the Duttons and Gerards." [1]CITATION[CLOSE]
Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
Nether Witton in Northumberland was also an ancient family seat. "In the 14th century, [the manor of Nether Witton] became the property of Roger de Thornton, who built the ancient baronial tower, and, dying in 1429, was succeeded by his son, whose daughter and heiress conveyed it by marriage to George, Lord Lumley, of Lumley Castle. The estate subsequently became again the property of the Thornton family, of whom James left two daughters, who, as co-heiresses, conveyed it by marriage to the Trevelyans and the Withams, whose descendants are at present its proprietors. The manorhouse, a handsome mansion of white freestone, erected in the 17th century, is beautifully situated in tastefully embellished grounds; it is said to have been visited by Cromwell in the summer of 1651, and to have been the hiding-place of Lord Lovat, after his flight from the field of Culloden." [1]CITATION[CLOSE]
Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Only recently has spelling become standardized in the English language. As the English language evolved in the Middle Ages, the spelling of names changed also. The name Thornton has undergone many spelling variations, including Thornton, Thornten and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Thornton research. Another 233 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1204, 1425, 1469, 1615, 1669, 1660 and are included under the topic Early Thornton History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Another 32 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Thornton Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Some of the Thornton family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 129 words (9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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To escape the unstable social climate in England of this time, many families boarded ships for the New World with the hope of finding land, opportunity, and greater religious and political freedom. Although the voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, those families that arrived often found greater opportunities and freedoms than they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Thornton were among those contributors:

Thornton Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • James Thornton who arrived in Maryland in 1633
  • Joanna Thornton settled in New England with her husband Walter and Robert her son in 1635
  • Joanna Thornton, aged 44, landed in New England in 1635
  • Robert Thornton, aged 11, landed in New England in 1635
  • Walter Thornton, aged 36, landed in America in 1635
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Thornton Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Mary Thornton settled in New York in 1705
  • Grace Thornton, who landed in Virginia in 1713
  • Ann Thornton, who arrived in New England in 1717
  • Margaret Thornton, aged 19, landed in Pennsylvania in 1775

Thornton Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Thomas Thornton, aged 66, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Seagood Thornton, aged 30, arrived in Maryland in 1812
  • Nicholas Thornton, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1816
  • John Thornton, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1816
  • Mary Thornton, aged 42, arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in 1834
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Thornton Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Christopher Thornton, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Mr. John Thornton U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [2]CITATION[CLOSE]
    Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  • Mr. Luke D Thornton U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [2]CITATION[CLOSE]
    Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  • Mr. Matthew Thornton U.E. who settled in St. Andrews, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784 he is listed as signing the Declaration of Independence [2]CITATION[CLOSE]
    Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  • Mr. Peter Thornton U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [2]CITATION[CLOSE]
    Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X

Thornton Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Remember Thornton, who arrived in Canada in 1830
  • Bleeker B Thornton, who arrived in Canada in 1830
  • Benjamin Thornton, who landed in Canada in 1832
  • Reuben S Thornton, who landed in Canada in 1832
  • Brian Thornton, aged 30, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Cupid" in 1834
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Thornton Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Malachi Thornton, English convict from Southampton, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Austraila
  • Mary Thornton, Scottish convict from Perth, who was transported aboard the "Amphitrite" on August 21, 1833, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Edward Thornton arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Thomas Harrison" in 1839
  • Michael Thornton arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Mary Dugdale" in 1840
  • Sarah Thornton, aged 18, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Elgin" in 1849
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Thornton Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • William Thornton, aged 21, a labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • Samuel G. Thornton arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Merrington" in 1867
  • S. G. Thornton arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Norham Castle" in 1872
  • W. H. Thornton arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1874
  • Edmund Thornton, aged 32, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Collingwood" in 1875
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  • Raymond Hoyt "Ray" Thornton Jr. (1928-2016), American lawyer and politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arkansas (1991-1997) and (1973-1979)
  • Richard Quincy "Dick" Thornton (1939-2014), American CFL football player for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1961-1966) and the Toronto Argonauts (1967-1972)
  • Billy Bob Thornton (b. 1955), American actor, filmmaker, and singer-songwriter
  • Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton (1926-1984), American rhythm and blues singer and songwriter
  • Alvin Thornton, American academic, Chair of Howard University's political science department
  • Andre Thornton (b. 1949), nicknamed "Thunder," American Major League Baseball first baseman and designated hitter
  • William Edgar Thornton (b. 1929), American former NASA astronaut with over 313 hours in space
  • Charles Bates "Tex" Thornton (1913-1981), American business executive, founder of Litton Industries, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Kathryn Ryan Cordell Thornton PH.D. (b. 1952), American former NASA astronaut with over 15 days in space
  • John Randolph Thornton (1846-1917), American politician, United States Senator from Louisiana
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Thornton Historic Events



Arrow Air Flight 1285

  • Mr. Christopher G Thornton (b. 1961), American Sergeant from Tacoma Park, Maryland, USA who died in the crash of Arrow Air Flight 1285 on December 12, 1985 in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada
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  • Scharnhorst, Lynch, Barnett, Thornton by Frances Carter.
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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fideli tuta merces
Motto Translation: To the faithful go rewards

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Citations



  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X

Other References

  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  2. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  4. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  5. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  6. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  7. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  8. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  9. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  11. ...

The Thornton Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Thornton Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 13 June 2016 at 12:42.

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