Charlton is an English surname which is geographic or habitational in origin as it is derived from any one of the many places which share the name located throughout English, most of which are found in the southern region. The name Charlton comes from the ancient English “ceorlatun”, a compound word which breaks down to the prefix “ceorla” meaning a tenant and the suffix “tun” which translates to a settlement or village.
Surnames in Britain prior to the Norman conquest were largely unheard of. In the small settlements and villages which existed during earlier times, residents found little need for surnames as everyone in these communities new each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, with the passage of time, population growth and expansions of communities as villages gave way to towns and cities, it became necessary to add a qualifier to a people's names to distinguish them, one from another. Therefore one person may have been identified by their given name plus their occupation while another may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent's names. The introduction of surnames by the Norman aristocracy after the invasion seemed to be the next logical step in this evolution. There was a endless supply from which surnames could be formed, in addition to the use of patriarchal or matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupation, there were things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individuals home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Soon, surnames would come not just to represent an individual but whole families.
There often exists variations in spelling of many surnames, as with many given names which date back to the early centuries. The variation in spelling of both given and surnames during this time period can be attributed to a lack of continuity regarding guidelines for spelling which was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time. The variations in the spelling of the surname include but not limited to; Charlton; Charleton; Carlton; Carolton; Carleton; Charlten; Chorlton; and Carlten among others.
The use of surnames also served a practical purpose, the practice allowed for more accuracy in record keeping of censuses, taxation, and immigration. One of the earliest records of any variation of this surname is that of Jordan de Cherleton which appears in the Glouchester tax rolls dated 1193. These rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King Henry III, with the oldest dating back seven hundred years to the 12th century. They hold the distinction of being the oldest consecutive set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom.
Some of the early immigrants to America bearing the surname or any variation of the spelling were Henna Charlton who arrived in 1623 and settled in Virginia. William Charlton who landed and settled in Virginia in 1662 and John Charlton arrived and settled in Virginia in 1664.
There were also many immigrants to the British Common Wealth countries of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand bearing the surname. James Charlton landed in 1750 and settled in Nova Scotia. Christopher and Jane Charlton along with their children, Thomas and William arrived in 1849 and settled in Adelaide, Australia. Horace Charlton arrived in 1842 and settled in Wellington, New Zealand.
Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Charlton are found in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Charlton live in Florida, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, and Washington.
There are many persons of note who bear the surname such as English born Lewis de Charleton. He was educated at Oxford and Cambridge Universities earning a doctorate in both law and theology. In 1361, Charlton was appointed Bishop of Hereford, a position he held until his death, May 23, 1369.
British born diplomat Richard Charlton was the first ambassador to the Kingdom of Hawaii from Great Britain. From (1825 to 1843.) Hawaii is the only Kingdom which joined the United States of America.
English born Walter Charlton was a writer, physician, and philosopher. In 1641, he was appointed the personal physician to Charles I.