This is a rare Orcadian and Scottish surname. It is said to be locational from the old township of Hourstane in the parish of Sandwick, Orkney. The meaning of the name is believed to be 'grey stone' from the pre 7th century Norse 'hara stan' and probably a reference to a boundary marker or similar. In most of the British Isles a locational surname would signify a name given to somebody who had left their original homestead to move somewhere else, but in the smaller old Celtic and Breton communities it was the fashion to call people after they place where they actually lived. This had the obvious and confusing result that in some villages, particularly in Northern Scotland everybody had the same surname and had to be identified by local nicknames! It is not clear when this surname was first recorded but Magnus Hourston appears in the registers of Evie in 1640, whilst Hew Hourston was the sherrif or lawrikman of North Sandwick in 1678.
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