This unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a variant form of the locational surname Atherton, which derives from the place in Lancashire so called near Bolton. The placename is recorded in the Lancashire Fees Court Rolls of 1212 as "Aderton", and appears as "Atherton" in 1322; the derivation of the name is from the Olde English pre 7th Century compound personal name "Aethelhere", from "aethel", noble, with "here", army, and "tun", enclosure, settlement. Locational surnames were acquired by the lord of the manor and local landowners, and especially by those former inhabitants who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Examples of the surname from Church Registers include: the marriage of Joanna Etherton and Hugo Fishe at St. Martin in the Fields, London, on February 8th 1581; the marriage of George Ettherton and Judeth Holdsworth, at St. Peter's, Leeds, on February 12th 1617; and the christening of Margrete, daughter of John Etherton, on August 22nd 1619, at St. John the Baptist, Chester. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Atherton, which was dated circa 1206, sheriff for the county of Lancashire, during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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