Additional Laughton Origin Information



The following information on the origins of the Laughton name come from Alan Laughton at  Alan Laughton <laughton@sympac.com.au>

Here is what Alan had to say about this information:

Paul,
I found the following in the genealogy program Corel Family Tree ver1. Its no longer published or supported so you might be able to put it on your page. Their meaning of Laughton is a bit different than what is quoted on your page. Anyhow, it makes interesting reading.

Regards,
Alan Laughton

3/11/00


Laughton

In the 5th century, the fierce Saxon and Angle tribes migrated to England and pushed the ancient Britons to the frontiers of the island. The noble Laughton family are descendants of these invading tribesmen. Originally, however, the Anglo-Saxon people were each known only by a single name. The process by which hereditary surnames were adopted in medieval England is an extremely interesting one. Surnames evolved during the Middle Ages, under the feudal system of government, and often reflected life on the manor and in the field. At this time, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Often they adopted names that denoted where a person came from. This type of surname, called a local surname, was derived from place-names: where a person lived, held land, or was born. The name Laughton is a local type of surname and the Laughton family lived in the village of Lawton which was in both Cheshire and Herefordshire. This place-name was derived from the Old English words hlaw tun, which means that the original bearers of the surname lived in the farm that was located on the hill.

Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the English language lacked definite spelling rules for most of its history. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Changes in the spellings of Anglo-Saxon names often reflected the evolving nature of the English language. During the mid-11th century, the Old English tongue spoken by the Anglo-Saxons gave way to Middle English, which incorporated elements of the Norman French language spoken by the conquerors of England. The introduction of the printing press by William Caxton in 1477 and the publication of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary in 1755 led to the standardization of modern English. In the meantime, even literate people varied the spelling of their own names. For example, the famous playwright William Shakespeare variously spelled his surname "Shakespere", "Shakespear", "Shakspere," and "Shaxspere." Similarly, the name has been spelled Loton, Lorton, Lotton, Loughmane, Loughton, Lawtons, Laughton, Lowton, Lawton, Loughmant, Loughmend, Loughman, Loughmand, Loughment, Loughmyn, Loughmen, Loughmint, Loughmynd and Loughmind.

Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of his surname in the ancient chronicles.

During the period after the collapse of the Roman Empire known as the Dark Ages, there was a decline in education and the majority of people were illiterate, including even emperors like the Frankish king Charlemagne. In medieval England, men of the church were the sole guardians of the written word and important documents were preserved within the sturdy walls of the ancient monasteries. Monks translated and revised classical texts and they compiled surveys for the purpose of recording births, deaths, marriages and land purchases. As a result of the frequency of court intrigue and the battles fought between feudal lords and barons, it became necessary to register the people and wealth of the land. The findings were subsequently recorded in various ancient manuscripts such as the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland , the Inquisitio , the Ragman Rolls , the Domesday Book, baptismal records, parish records, cartularies, and tax records. The history of the Anglo-Saxon surname Laughton appeared in a significant number of these records and the earliest origins of the distinguished family were found in Cheshire. Early references to the surname mention Adam de Lauton who was recorded in the Pipe Rolls for Lancashire in 1205 and in 1281 Philip de Lauton was listed in the Assize Rolls for Cheshire. Throughout the Middle Ages the Laughton family played an influential role in social, economic and political development of Cheshire. As a result of their contributions to local affairs, the Laughton family developed a prestigious reputation among the other notable families in their community.

This distinguished Cheshire family prospered on their estates for several centuries increasing their wealth and territorial holdings through marriage with other prominent families.

The 1984 edition of the Report of Distribution of Surnames in the Social Security lists the surname Lawton as the 2,311st most popular surname in the United States.

The following work(s) may prove helpful for more information: The Descendants of George Lawton

by Elva Lawton, How Grand a Flame by Clyde Bresee.

Throughout the Middle Ages the Laughton family and the English nation managed to flourish despite plagues, famine, and the harsh realities of life at this time. However, during the modern era, England was devastated by religious and political conflict. Under the Tudors the problems of succession, strife between Catholics and Protestants, and the fear of foreign invasion had mainly been resolved. Later, under the House of Stuart, there were conflicts between the king and Parliament, and between Catholics and Protestants. The Stuarts came to power at a time when the middle class was becoming increasingly powerful and willing to assert its rights through Parliament. The Stuarts were ousted from power first by Cromwell and then by the "Glorious Revolution" which resulted in the long series of Jacobite uprisings.

As a result of the chaos and upheaval at home, numerous English families voluntarily or involuntarily left England and migrated to Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia and the other colonies held by the British crown. In Ireland, Protestant settlers and those who fought for or supported Cromwell were granted lands which had been confiscated from the Catholic Irish. While some of the confiscated lands were returned during the reign of King Charles II, most remained in the hands of newcomers. Other English families migrated to Ireland in search of work in the newly created Irish industries.

The open spaces and untamed frontiers of North America attracted many migrants in search of adventure and property. Numerous English families migrated to the New World on the armada of sailing ships which were romantically known as the White Sails, but were often referred to as coffin ships. As a result of the harsh conditions on the overcrowded ships, the majority of the immigrants arrived in the New World diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. After risking the perilous journey across the oceans to the newly discovered lands in North America, the English settlers realized that the New World was not the paradise they had expected. Early attempts to establish a colony at Roanoke Island in North Carolina met with disaster. In 1591, supply ships found the colony deserted and the fate of the settlers remained a mystery forever. The great flux of English migration to Canada occurred after the Seven Years War, when Canada was ceded to the British. Moreover, after the American War of Independence, numerous English settlers migrated from the United States into Canada. These families, who were known as United Empire Loyalists moved into Nova Scotia, and the St. Lawrence and Niagara regions. These English families have made a valuable contribution to the settlement of North America and to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada.