Last name: Awton
Recorded in the spellings of Aghton, Auton, Awton, and Auten, this is an English locational name of some considerable history. It derives from the village of Aughton in Lancashire, a place recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book in the spelling of "Actuna", or from two villages of the same spelling in East and West Yorkshire, or from an area in County Durham, known as Auton Stile. However spelt the surname translates as "The place of the Oak", and probably referred to the meeting place of the local council of elders or even the local Court of Justice. The oak had particular significance to the ancient people, and was considered by them to be endowed with mystic and religious power. The name is well recorded in both Lancashire and Yorkshire, and early examples of the recordings taken from surviving church registers include: Johanna Aughton of Standish, in Lancashire on April 14th 1561, and William Auton of Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, on August 19th 1686. Amongst the earliest recordings in the new Colonies of America was that of Adrian Auten. He was a citizen of New York, although born in England. At the time New York, then called New Amsterdam, was a Dutch possession, but it was captured by the British in 1664, and held by them until Independance in 1776. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Roberte de Actun. This was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls" of the county of Lancashire, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England. He was known as the "Hammer of the Scots", 1273 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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