This interesting surname is of English locational origin from one of the many places named Kirton, eg. in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Suffolk, etc., recorded respectively in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Chirchetune, Circeton and Kirketuna. The placename derives from the Old English pre 7th Century "ciric" meaning church plus "tun" a homestead or village; hence "church village". The surname is first recorded in the early 13th Century, (see below). One Sir John de Kirton, is noted in History of Norfolk (1360).In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings including Kirton, Kerton, etc.. Recordings of the surname from the Yorkshire church registers include; on November 29th 1632, Elizabeth, daughter of Johannis Kearton was christened at Great Ayton; the christening of Abigail, daughter of Jacobi Kearton, took place at Grinton, on November 28th 1645; in the same place on April 28th 1645, Elizabeth Kearton married Ralph Hutchinson; and Cathern, daughter of John and Cathern Kearton, was christened on February 2nd 1668, at Hipswell. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lambert de Kirketon, which was dated 1219, Assize Court Rolls of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, "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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