Show ContentsCompton History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Anglo-Saxon name Compton comes from when the family resided in Compton, a place-name found in numerous locales throughout England. Villages called Compton are found in Berkshire, Huntingdonshire, Surrey, Sussex and Wiltshire. The name probably sprang from all of these locales at one time or another. Many of the villages date back to the Domesday Book [1] where there were listed with names like Contune (Berkshire), Cunone (Huntingdonshire), and more.

However, the oldest listing was found in Compton Abbas, Dorset where it dates back before the Domesday Book to 956 as Cumtune. The name literally was derived from the Old English "cumb" + "tun" meaning "farmstead or village in a valley," so one can understand the many listings. [2]

Early Origins of the Compton family

The surname Compton was first found in Devon where they held a family seat at Compton Castle, a fortified manor house in the village of Compton. The original undefended manor house was built in the mid-14th century and was home to Sir Humphrey Gilbert (1539-1583), colonizer of Newfoundland and half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh.

"In the parish of Marldon is the fine old fortified house known as Compton Castle. Once the seat of a family of that name, it came to the Gilberts of Greenway by marriage with a coheiress. Though long a farmhouse the ' castle ' is in very fair preservation. The gateway and chapel preserve their ancient character tolerably intact ; and the whole pile has a remarkably picturesque appearance." [3]

Another branch of the family claims descent from Warwickshire where "the Marquis of Northampton derives from Turchill, possessor of Arden, before the Conquest. His descendant Osbert, in 1169, assumed the name of Compton from his estate in the same county. " [4]

Another reference states "the family was seated at Compton, called 'in the Windgate,' soon after the Conquest." [5] "Philip de Compton is the first of the name who certainly held the manor of Compton, in the fifth of John." [5]

Early History of the Compton family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Compton research. Another 216 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1212, 1650, 1482, 1528, 1630, 1625, 1663, 1632, 1713, 1675, 1713, 1601, 1643, 1622, 1681, 1660, 1681, 1675, 1679, 1669, 1691, 1673, 1743, 1632, 1713, 1675 and 1713 are included under the topic Early Compton History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Compton Spelling Variations

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, French and other languages became incorporated into English through the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Compton include Compton, Comptons, Competom, Comptown, Comptowne, Comptoun, Comptaun, Comptaune, Comptoune, Coompton, Combton, Combtons, Combtown, Combtaune, Wilmington and many more.

Early Notables of the Compton family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Sir William Compton (c. 1482-1528), a prominent courtier during the reign of Henry VIII. A fictionalized William Compton was portrayed in 2007 on the television series The Tudors; William Compton, 1st Earl of Northampton (died 1630), known as Lord Compton, an English peer; Sir William Compton (1625-1663), an English royalist army officer; Henry Compton (1632-1713), Bishop of London from 1675 to 1713; Lord Spencer Compton, 2nd Earl of Northampton (1601-1643), an English soldier...
Another 79 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Compton Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Compton Ranking

In the United States, the name Compton is the 902nd most popular surname with an estimated 32,331 people with that name. [6] However, in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Compton is ranked the 504th most popular surname with an estimated 93 people with that name. [7]

United States Compton migration to the United States +

A great wave of immigration to the New World was the result of the enormous political and religious disarray that struck England at that time. Families left for the New World in extremely large numbers. The long journey was the end of many immigrants and many more arrived sick and starving. Still, those who made it were rewarded with an opportunity far greater than they had known at home in England. These emigrant families went on to make significant contributions to these emerging colonies in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers carried this name or one of its variants:

Compton Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Frances Compton, who landed in Virginia in 1623 [8]
  • John Compton, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1634 [8]
  • James Compton, who landed in Maryland in 1637 [8]
  • Thomas Compton, who settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1634 and was made a freeman of the colony in 1637
  • John Compton was a wheelwright in Boston in 1638
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Compton Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • H T Compton, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [8]
  • Rogero Compton, aged 30, who arrived in New Orleans, La in 1851 [8]
  • Mr. Compton, (b. 1832), aged 20 Barbadian settler traveling aboard the ship "Emily" arriving in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1852 [9]
  • Sarah Compton, aged 19, who landed in New York in 1862 [8]
  • Stephan Compton, aged 43, who arrived in New York in 1862 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Compton migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Compton Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. William Compton U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1783 died in 1804 in Saint Martins [10]
Compton Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mr. David Compton, aged 20 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Avon"Cork, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle in September 1847 [11]

Australia Compton migration to Australia +

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

Compton Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • James Compton, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on October 22nd, 1824, settling in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Mr. Stephen Compton, (b. 1795), aged 36, British Plaisterer who was convicted in Sussex, England for life for stealing, transported aboard the "Asia" on 29th September 1831, settling in New South Wales, Australia, he died on 1878 [13]
  • Mr. Henry Compton, English convict who was convicted in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Eliza" on 2nd February 1831, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [14]
  • Mr. James Compton, English convict who was convicted in Warwickshire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "David Clarke" on 3rd June 1841, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [15]
  • Mr. Thomas Compton, (b. 1821), aged 27, English weaver from Bedworth, Warwichshire, England, UK travelling aboard the ship "Artemisia" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 13th December 1848 [16]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Compton 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:

Compton Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • George Compton, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship Mandarin
  • George Compton, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Mandarin" in 1841
  • Mr. Compton, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Mandarin" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 21st May 1841 [17]
  • Alfred Compton, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1843
  • Mr. Compton, British settler travelling from London, UK aboard the ship "Bride" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 21st June 1858 [17]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Compton migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [18]
Compton Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Jo Compton, aged 26, who landed in Barbados in 1635 [8]
  • Mr. John Compton, (b. 1609), aged 26, British settler travelling aboard the ship "Expedition" arriving in Barbados in 1636 [19]

Contemporary Notables of the name Compton (post 1700) +

  • Lynn D. "Buck" Compton (b. 1921), American lead prosecutor in Sirhan Sirhan's trial for the murder of Robert F. Kennedy
  • Forrest Compton (1925-2020), American actor from Reading, Pennsylvania, primarily known for his roles in television
  • Belton O'Neal Compton Jr. (1951-2019), American actor and director from Sumter, South Carolina
  • Karl Taylor Compton (1887-1954), prominent American physicist and president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1930-1948)
  • Jim Compton (1941-2014), American journalist for NBC News and politician
  • Stacy Compton (b. 1967), American NASCAR team owner and former driver
  • Asbury Christian Compton (1929-2006), American attorney and judge who served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia
  • Arthur Holly Compton (1892-1962), American physicist awarded the 1927 Nobel Prize in Physics
  • Gordon B. Compton, American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Army Air Forces, during World War II, credited with 5½ aerial victories
  • Boyd M. Compton, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Ohio, 1940, 1944 [20]
  • ... (Another 41 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. William A Compton (b. 1901), English Leading Stoker serving for the Royal Navy from Dartford, Kent, England, who sailed into battle and died in the HMS Hood sinking [21]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Compton, British Pay Sub Lieutenant Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales (1941) and survived the sinking [22]
RMS Titanic
  • Mrs. Mary Eliza Compton, (née Ingersoll), aged 64, American First Class passenger from Lakewood, New Jersey who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping in life boat 14 [23]
  • Miss Sara Rebecca Compton, aged 39, American First Class passenger from Lakewood, New Jersey who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping in life boat 14 [23]
  • Mr. Alexander Taylor Compton Jr. (d. 1912), aged 37, American First Class passenger from Lakewood, New Jersey who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [23]

The Compton Motto +

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: Tout bien ou rien
Motto Translation: All well or nothing.

Suggested Readings for the name Compton +

  • The Comptons of Grove Lake: A Story of the Ancestors Back to the Mayflower and Their Descendants to the Pacific by Mildred Blair Hawkins.
  • Family Record of James Compton and Clarissa Cleveland-Compton by Murat Compton.

  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  4. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  6. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  7. The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  8. 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)
  9. Barbados archives retrieved 2nd November 2021 from
  10. 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
  11. 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. 19)
  12. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1824 with 9 passengers. Retrieved from
  13. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th January 2020). Retrieved from
  14. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th February 2022). Retrieved from
  15. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd June 2021). Retrieved from
  16. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, May 30). Ships' Passenger Lists of Arrivals in New South Wales on (1828 - 1842, 1848 - 1849) [PDF]. Retrieved from
  17. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  19. Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 29th September 2021. Retrieved from
  20. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 19) . Retrieved from
  21. H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from
  22. HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from
  23. Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from on Facebook