Recorded as Bilton and very occassionally as Bylton, this is an English surname. It is locational and may be from any of the six known villages or localities called Bilton, in the counties of Northumberland, Warwick, and Yorkshire. It would seem that most of these places were not recorded at the time of the famous Domesday Book of 1086, except the one in Northumberland. This appears as 'Bentone' which may be a clerical error as shortly afterwards this is corrected to Belton. In all cases the actual meaning of the place name is uncertain. It is thought that the prefix may derive from the pre 6th century word 'bill' meaning a sword, whilst the suffix is cleary from 'tun' meaning a homestead or farm. As such 'bill' could have been used in a transferred sense to describe a steep hill and hence the farm on the hill. Bilton near Harrogate seems to be on a hill, although we cannot speak for the other places. Thje famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley writing in 1880, clearly believed that the origin of the surname was from Yorkshire. He quoted several examples of the early recordings from the reign of King Edward 11nd of England, 1307 - 1327. These include Thomas de Bilton, given as being a Freeman of the city of York in 1320, whilst Adam de Bilton and Johannes de Bilton both appear in the Poll Tax rolls of 1379.
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