Tornton History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The ancient history of the Tornton name begins with the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the family resided in the parish of Thornton in the county of Yorkshire. Tornton 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 Tornton 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 Tornton were named due to their close proximity to the village where the thorn bushes were plentiful.  
Early Origins of the Tornton family
The surname Tornton 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 Tornton family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Tornton research. Another 117 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1204, 1425, 1469, 1615, 1669, 1660, 1440, 1623, 1678 and are included under the topic Early Tornton History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Tornton Spelling Variations
Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Tornton include Thornton, Thornten and others.
Early Notables of the Tornton family (pre 1700)
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 Tornton Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Tornton family to Ireland
Some of the Tornton 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 Tornton family
Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Tornton or a variant listed above: 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..
Related Stories +
The Tornton 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: 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.