The name Milton is of Anglo-Saxon/English origin being derived from anyone of the numerous towns or villages which share its name and can be found in Kent, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, and Northumbria. Milton is a compound of two medieval English words, middel which translates exactly as it sounds, meaning “middle” and tun which translates to “enclosed”.
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 boundless supply from which surnames could be formed, in addition to the use of patriarchal/matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupational, there were things such as defining physical traits, to 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 surname's, as with many 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 Milton include but not limited to; Milton, Mylton, Meletune, Meletone, and Miletune among others.
The earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of Alan de Milton which appears in the Oxfordshire tax rolls from 1235. 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 to the 12th century. They hold the distinction of being the oldest consecutive set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom. These records span a period of over 700 years and have proven invaluable to researches over the years.
The first recorded immigrant to America bearing the surname or any variation of the spelling was Richard Milton who arrived in 1620 and settled in Virginia. William Milton landed and settled in Virginia in 1638. Hannah Milton landed in 1838 and settled in Virginia and William Milton arrived and settled in Virginia in 1651.
There were also many immigrants to the British Common Wealth countries of Canada and Australia bearing the surname Milton. John Milton landed in 1774 and settled in Nova Scotia. Thomas Milton landed in 1784 and settled in Ontario. James Milton landed in 1840 and settled in Adelaide, Australia. George Milton landed in 1848 and settled in Adelaide, Australia. William Milton landed in 1849 and settled in Adelaide, Australia as did John Milton.
Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Milton are found in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and Sweden. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Milton live in Louisiana.
There are many persons of note who bear the surname Milton. Viscount Milton, William Wentworth-FitzWilliam was a member of Parliament in the House of Commons. He was also an avid explorer with one of his most notable treks being an expedition he took with Dr. Walter Butler Cheadle. The men and their party traveled from Quebec City to Victoria, BC. Together the two explorers co-wrote two books about their exploration, “The North-West Passage by Land” and “Voyage de l'Atlantique au Pacifique, a travers le Canada”.
John Milton was born in London, England and is most well known as a poet, primarily for the epic “Paradise Lost”. Most of Milton's early work garnered him little attention as his early work was published under pseudonyms or anonymously and largely overlooked, until the publication of “Paradise Lost” under his own name. The poem was highly praised and each publishing sold out within months. Milton followed with “Paradise Regained”, which was equally successful. Milton is considered one of the greatest and most influential poets of all time.