This most interesting surname, recorded in the spellings of Betton, Beaton, and Bethune, has a number of distinct origins. Firstly, it may be a Norman locational surname, introduced into England and Scotland after the Conquest of 1066, from the place called "Bethune" in Pas-de-Calais, Picardy. The placename was recorded in the 8th Century in the Latin form "Bituinia", and is thought to be so called from an ancient Germanic personal name "Betto", from "berht", bright, famous. Secondly, Beaton may be derived from the medieval given name "Be(a)ton", a diminutive of a short form of either the female personal name Beatrice, originally "Viatrix", meaning "traveller" or the male personal name Bartholomew, from the Aramaic "bar-Talmay", son of one rich in land. The latter source applies particularly in Scotland, and indeed the name Beaton is now found mainly in the Angus and Fife regions of that country. A branch of the family settled in Skye in the mid 16th Century, and found fame and success as physicians for several generations. One 18th Century source says that a Dr. Beaton was sitting on the upper deck of the "Florida" of the Spanish Armada when it blew up in Tobermory Bay in 1588; he was thrown "a good way off", but apparently lived several years after. The christening of John, son of John Beaton, was recorded at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London, on August 30th 1615. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Betoun, which was dated 1311, in the "Court Rolls of the Borough of Colchester", during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. 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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