Alton History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 brought much change to the island nation, including many immigrants with new names. Among these immigrants were the ancestors of the Alton family, who lived in Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire, where they held lands and estates for many years. They were granted these lands by William the Conqueror for their efforts at the Norman Conquest in 1066. The name is habitational in derivation, and comes from the Old English awiell, which means spring, and tun, which means enclosure or settlement.

Early Origins of the Alton family

The surname Alton was first found in Northumberland, Staffordshire, and Lancashire. Of the latter, we found more records than the other branches. At first, the family held estates at Bispham, a village within the borough of Blackpool as far back as the 14th century. Roger Dalton had thirteen children by four wives. This branch also held estates at Thurnham, again in Lancashire.

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 had two listings for the family, both in Northumberland: Henry de Dalton; and William de Dalton. [1]

Of note was Lawrence Dalton who died in 1561 and was an officer of arms at the College of Arms in London. "He entered the College of Arms as Calais pursuivant extraordinary, became Rouge Croix pursuivant in 1546, Richmond herald in 1547, and Norroy king of arms by patent 6 Sept. 1557, though his creation as Norroy by Queen Mary at Somerset Place was postponed till 9 Dec. 1558." [2]

"The manor was subsequently held by Thomas Lonne, citizen and grocer of London, who, in the reign of Philip and Mary, sold it to the Daltons, of Bispham, which family continues to possess nearly the whole township." [3]

Some of the family were found in Scotland where they were "doubtless from Dalton in Northumberland. Mention was made c. 1315 of certain lands in Roxburgh, Kerton, etc., which had belonged to quondam William de Dalton (RSM., I, 14). William de Dalton was bailie of Aberdeen in 1368, Helisei de Dalton was a bailie there, 1396, and Thomas Dalton was admitted burgess of the town in 1409. " [4]

Early History of the Alton family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Alton research. Another 81 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1284, 1648, 1709, 1763, 1705, 1712, 1709, 1190, 1792, 1867, 1792, 1814 and 1874 are included under the topic Early Alton History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Alton Spelling Variations

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Alton, Allton, Allten, Alten, Altoun, Althoun, Althan, Althaun, Aulton, Dalton and many more.

Early Notables of the Alton family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Michael Dalton (d. 1648?), English author of two legal works of high repute in the seventeenth century, the son of Thomas Dalton...
Another 29 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Alton Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Alton family to Ireland

Some of the Alton family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 104 words (7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Alton migration to the United States +

Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Alton or a variant listed above:

Alton Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Geo Alton, who landed in Virginia in 1811 [5]
  • W S Alton, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]
  • Maria G Alton, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]
  • Alexander, Anthony, James and Richard Alton all, who arrived in Philadelphia between 1850 and 1860
  • Samuel Alton, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1861 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Alton migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Alton Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century
  • Estiennette Alton, who landed in Montreal in 1659
  • Etiennette Alton, who arrived in Montreal in 1659
Alton Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Miss. Ann Alton, aged 3 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Bridgetown" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle on 29th August 1847 [6]

Australia Alton migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Alton Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Alton, English convict who was convicted in Southampton, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Augusta Jessie" on 27 September 1834, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [7]

New Zealand Alton migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Alton Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Alton, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Tamar" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 28th January 1858 [8]

Contemporary Notables of the name Alton (post 1700) +

  • David Gordon Alton (1846-1893), American professional baseball umpire active from 1871 to 1875
  • Robert Alton (1906-1957), American Tony Award winning dancer and choreographer, best known for discovering Gene Kelly, for his collaborations with Fred Astaire, best known for his work on White Christmas (1954) and Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
  • Joseph W. Alton Jr. (1919-2013), American politician, Anne Arundel County Executive (1965-1974)
  • John Alton A.S.C. (1901-1996), born Johann Altmann, Austrian-born, American Academy Award winning cinematographer for An American in Paris (1951)
  • Jess Alton, American Democrat politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Iowa 7th District, 1942 [9]
  • Davis Alton, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1860 [9]
  • Roger Alton (b. 1947), English journalist, current executive editor of The Times, former editor of The Independent and The Observer
  • Ms. Gillian Margaret Alton O.B.E., British Chief Executive Officer for Grimsby Institute Group, was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire on 8th June 2018, for services to Education [10]
  • Ernest Henry Alton (1873-1952), Irish university professor and academic, Provost of Trinity College, Dublin (1942–1952)
  • David Patrick Paul Alton KCSG, KCMCO (b. 1951), Baron Alton of Liverpool, a British politician
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  5. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 12)
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/augusta-jessie
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 4) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  10. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018, www.thegazette.co.uk/honours-lists


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