Torntan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The ancestors of the Torntan surname lived among the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. The name comes from when they lived in the parish of Thornton in the county of Yorkshire. Torntan 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 Torntan 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 Torntan were named due to their close proximity to the village where the thorn bushes were plentiful.  
Early Origins of the Torntan family
The surname Torntan 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."  
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." 
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." 
Gilbert de Thornton (d. 1295), was an English judge and was engaged as a crown advocate in 1291. On 2 Oct. 1284, he was sent to Ireland on the king's service and later became Chief Justice of the King's Bench. 
Yorkshire was a county of significance. "The explanation of so many Thorntons in the Yorkshire directories lies in the fact that there are at least three Thorntons in that county including Thornton-in-Craven, and Thornton-in-Lonsdale. " 
The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 confirmed the Yorkshire existence of the family there at that time (Hugh de Thorneton and Richard de Thorneton but also included a lone Cambridgeshire listing: Roger de Thoratone. 
Another source confirms the Yorkshire significance: "Yorkshire abounds with places so called. Thorne appears to have been an old Anglo-Saxon personal name; and hence Thornton may mean the homestead of Thorne." 
Early History of the Torntan family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Torntan research. Another 117 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1204, 1425, 1440, 1469, 1615, 1623, 1660, 1669, 1678 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Torntan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Torntan 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 Torntan include Thornton, Thornten and others.
Early Notables of the Torntan family
Notables of this surname at this time include: Sir Roger Thornton of Soane, Cambridgeshire; and Sir Isaac Thornton (1615-1669), an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1660.
Robert Thornton (fl. 1440), was the transcriber of the 'Thornton Romances.' Thornton spent much of his life in transcribing, and perhaps translating into English, romances and other works popular in his day. 
Robert Thoroton (1623-1678), was an English antiquary, the son of Robert and Anne Thoroton. "His ancestors had long held considerable property in...
Another 86 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Torntan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Torntan family to Ireland
Some of the Torntan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 88 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Torntan family
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: James Thornton who arrived in Maryland in 1633; Joanna Thornton settled in New England with her husband Walter and Robert her son in 1635; Mary Thornton settled in New York in 1705..
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
- Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
- Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
- Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- Testa de Nevill or "Liber Feodorum" or "Book of Fees," thought to have been written by Ralph de Nevill, for King John (1199–1216)
- Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
- Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
- Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.