Recorded in four spellings Cawthorn, Cawthorne, Corthorn, and Cawthron, this is an English locational surname of great antiquity. There are two places from which the surname has developed. The first is Cawthorn in the modern county of North Yorkshire, and recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as Caltorn, - the second is Cawthorne in the county of South Yorkshire, near the town of Barnsley, and about fifty miles from the first village. This was also recorded in the Domesday Book as Caltorn. The meaning of the name is uncertain but two suggestions are 'cold thorn bush' which at best seems unlikely, and the second 'caluthorn' means 'bare-bush' and again stretches the imagination to breaking point without providing an answer! Our suggestion is that as 'thorn' was a often a major defense weapon, maybe it was poor and too thin. Locational surnames were either those of the local lord of the manor or were ones given to people after they left their original village and moved somewhere else usually in search of work. Local dialects being 'thick' and education being minimal, lead to 'sounds like' spellings appearing in the local registers. However the first recordings are definately those of the lords of the manor of Cawthorn(e), and include John de Cauthorn in the lists known as 'The Hundred Rolls of Yorkshire' in 1272/3, and later Johanna de Cauthorn in the Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire in 1370. The name was also recorded in Philadelphia, USA, in about 1780. The first known recording is believed to be that of Gamel de Cauthorn in 1272, but whether he was from Cawthorn in the north or Cawthorne further south, is unclear. The blazon for the coat of arms of Cawthorne of Yorkshire, has a silver field charged with five gold crosses, on a black saltire. Quite spectacular. The king was Edward 1st 1272 - 1307 often known as 'The hammer of the Scots'.
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