The name of Norton

I see someone reached this site earlier this week by typing in to the search engine: ‘What sort of surname is Norton’.  I like to think the answer is ‘a rather fine one’.

Norton as far as I am aware is old English for north tun or north town.  It is to be found in various place names, such as Chipping Norton.  There is a village in the West country called Norton St Philip.  I have never been but a fellow peer once kindly send me a picture postcard of the village. 

People with the surname are to be found especially – as was the case in the 1880s – in Lincolnshire and East Anglia.  Given that it is not uncommon in these areas, I was surprised to see that were only just over 12,000 Nortons listed in the UK (just over 9,000 in the 1881 census).   We appear to be even more special than I thought.

I appreciate this post is likely to be of limited interest – unless your surname is Norton.  However, given the number of Nortons in the USA (over 61,000) it may achieve a more international readership.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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11 Responses to The name of Norton

  1. Croft says:

    Certainly there is a an active (largely US based?) website though on a quick glance you’ve escaped their notice.

  2. Carl.H says:

    Are you descendant of Lady Francis & Sir George Norton, the former buried in Westminster Abbey ?

    • Lord Norton says:

      Carl.H: I think I can say with some confidence that the answer is no. Nor am I related to Sir Fletcher Norton, Speaker of the House of Commons who was voted out of the Speakership. A far as I am aware, I have no eminent forebears.

  3. The Duke of Waltham says:

    “However, given the number of Nortons in the USA (over 61,000) it may achieve a more international readership.”

    There is much more than that, My Lord. Guess what the name of the only emperor in the history of the United States is…

    Oh, yes.

    • Lord Norton says:

      The Duke of Waltham: I am indeed aware of Emperor Norton. Whenever I address an audience of people from San Francisco, I ask if they are aware of the eccentric who became Emperor Norton in the city.

  4. The Duke of Waltham says:

    One more thing: my initial hunch was proved correct, and the opposite of Norton is, indeed, Sutton. Kind of like Norfolk vs Suffolk, I suppose.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Lord Norton, I noticed recently you have lost your top spot in a Google search for “Philip Norton” to the web designer who’d been keen to displace you. (This was once discussed on Lords of the Blog, but I can’t find it now.) Perhaps all commenters should pledge to link to your Wikipedia page from their own websites in order to restore you to your rightful place!

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