This surname with variant spellings Kerton and Kurton, is of English locational origin from any of the various places thus called, for example, Kirton, in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk. Recorded respectively as Chirchetune, Circeton and Kirketuna in the Domesday Book of 1086 for the above counties, the name, in all cases, derives from the Old English pre 7th Century "circa" meaning "church" (replaced by the old Norse "kirkja", church), plus "tun", an enclosure or settlement. The surname is first recorded in the early 13th Century, (see below). Sir John de Kirton appears in the Norfolk County Records under the date 1360 and a William Kirton in "The Register of the Freemen of Yorkshire", (1508). A Coat of Arms granted to the Kirton family of Northampton is divided quarterly. The first quarter is silver charged with a red fess (horizontal band) and a red chevron. A black crescent against a silver background having a black border is in the second quarter. The third is divided vertically gold and red and charged with three leopards' faces, and the fourth is silver with a red fess between three hooded hawks' heads. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lambert de Kirketon, witness, which was dated 1219, in the "Assize Court Rolls of Lancashire", during the reign of Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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