Sexton Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This last name has three origin stories. First, it is an English occupational name that denoted a person in medieval times and the Middle Ages who worked as a sexton, or churchwarden, derived from the Middle English word sexteyn and the Old French word secrestein, both from the Latin word sacristanus. These churchwardens, or officers were in charge of the sacristy, which is a room in the church where priests prepare for service and where vestments are stored. They were also responsible for maintaining the buildings and graveyards on church land. They also performed other tasks such as ordering and receiving supplies. Teams of sextons were sometimes employed in large cathedrals!
Second, it is an Irish surname, popular in Munster, the midlands, and Limerick, that was an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name O’Seastnain, meaning “descendant of Seastnan”, with Seasnan being an old personal (first) name meaning “body guard”, from the word seasuighim, meaning to resist or defend.
Third, it could be an English locational name that came to denote a person from Saxton, a village in the West Riding of Yorkshire, itself derived from the Old English words Seaxe tun, meaning Saxon village.
Surname Spelling variants
Spelling or names with similar etymologies include Sextone, Sexon, Saxton, Sextain, and Sexteyn.
Early Bearers of the Sexton Surname
The first known bearers of this surname was Thomas Sekerstein who was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire in 1203 AD. Hugh Sacristan was documented in Kent in 1373 AD. John Sexteyn was recorded in the Close Rolls c. 1468 AD. William Sextain was documented in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1327 AD. The Poll Tax Rolls of Yorkshire in 1379 AD also list two bearers: Johannes de Saxton and Robertus de Saxton. Denis Sexten was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1475 AD.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Sexton ranks 747th in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following four states: Kentucky (176th), Tennessee (252nd), Ohio (376th), and Indiana (407th).
The surname Sexton frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (1,556th), Scotland (3,002nd), Wales (1,202nd), Ireland (329th) and Northern Ireland (2,931st). In England, it ranks highest in Norfolk. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in North Lanarkshire.
In Ireland, it ranks highest in Munster. In Wales, it ranks highest in Cardiff.
The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (3,354th), New Zealand (1,549th), Australia (1,156th), and South Africa (31,328th).
Sexton Family Tree & Sexton Genealogy
Sexton from Ireland to Massachusetts/Connecticut
Dennis Sexton was born in 1524 AD. He had a son named Morris who was born in 1544 AD. Morris married Christine Nagle, and had a son with her named Edmond. This son, Edmond Sexton, was born in Clarina, Limerick, Munster Ireland in 1564 AD. He was the Mayor of Limerick, Ireland. Geni.com states the following regarding him: “Sir Edmond Sexten was was chief of servants to King Henry VIII at the royal household and was granted the confiscated Abbey house of St. Mary and St. Francis with their hugh lands thus becoming quite prominent”. He married twice: Joane Goulde and Katherine, daughter of Robert Arthur. He had issue as follows: Stephen, George, Nicholas, Christopher, Margaret, Ellis, Anne, Phillis, Mary, Katherine, Grace, and Elinor. His son, Stephen Sexton, was born in Munster, Limerick, Ireland c. 1584 AD. He was also a mayor. His wife is believed to have been Alison, daughter of Dominick Whyte, and had issue as follows: George, Edmond, James, Christopher, Susanna, and Arthur. His son, James Saxon was born in Limerick in 1604. He was a shipbuilder by trade. He married Joan Ellis and had issue with her as follows: Richard, Symen, George Sr., Patrick, Joseph, Stephen, Joan, John, and Francis.
His son, George Sexton Sr., was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1632. He went to colonial America, perhaps aboard the Blessing, or an unknown ship. He had fled Europe because he was a religious fugitive who was fleeing from General Ireton, the son in law of Oliver Cromwell, who was persecuting Protestants. He lived in Massachusetts and Connecticut. In 1663, he purchased land at “Warianoake River at Westfield” from Thomas Cowper. It is believed he had a house and homestead of 21 acres. He married twice: Mary (last name not known) and Katherine Bird, daughter of James Cowing, and had issue as follows: George Jr., James I, Daniel, Captain Joseph, Benjamin, and John. Five of his sons are discussed as follows. It should be noted we list births as occurring in colonial America, but some source believe some of the sons may have been born in Ireland.
1) George Sexton Jr. was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1658. He married Hannah, daughter of Sergeant Thomas Spencer, and had issue with her as follows: George III, Charles I, Nathaniel, and Gershom.
2) James Saxton I was born in Westfield, Massachusetts in 1660. He married three times and had issue as follows: John, Hannah, Phoebe, Elizabeth, Mercy “Mary”, Catherine, and James II.
3) Daniel Sexton was born in Westfield, Massachusetts in 1662. He married Sarah, daughter of John Bancroft, and had issue with her as follows: Nathaniel, Sarah, William, Katherine, James, and Thomas.
4) Captain James Saxton was born in Windsor, Connecticut in 1665. He married Hannah, daughter of Abel Wright, and had issue as follows: Hannah, Gersham Sr., Joseph Bradley, Mindwell, Daniel Sr., Ezekiel, Charles, Joseph, and David.
5) Benjamin Sexton was born in Westfield, Hampden, Massachusetts in 1667. He married Mary, daughter of Jebediah Strong, and had issue with her as follows: George, Elizabeth, and Benjamin
From London to Connecticut
James Saxon, son of Mayor Stephen Sexton, both discussed above, was born in Limerick, Munster in 1604. His son, Richard Sexton, was born in London, England in 1621. It is believed he came to Massachusetts aboard the Blessing in 1635 and was one of the founders of Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut. He married Sarah, daughter of Richard Cook, and had issue with her as follows: Sarah, John, Mary, Richard, Patience, Frances, and Francis. All children seem to have spelled the surname as Saxton. His son, John Saxton, was born in Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut was born in 1650. He married Mary, daughter of Luke Hill, and had issue as follows: Richard, John, and Mary
Sexton from Lavenham
Aleyn Sexton was born in Lavennham, Suffolk, England c. 1470 AD. He married Rose (last name not known) and had two issue with her: Robert and Rose. Robert Sexton was born in Lavenham, Suffolk c. 1491 AD. He married twice: Cecily, daughter of Thomas Spring, and Agnes, daughter of Thomas Jermyn III, and had issue as follows: Agnes, Margery, Thomas, Mary, Bridget, Edmund, Robert, and Rose. His son, Thomas Sexton, was born in Lavenham, Suffolk c. 1499 AD. He married Elizabeth, daughte of Thomas Mountney IV, and had issue as follows: Robert, Edmund, Thomas, and others. He owned a house in Lavenham and the Manor of Byham in Essex. His son Thomas was born in Lavenham, England c. 1537 AD. He married Annie, daughter of Gentleman Henry Hudson I, and had a daughter named Barbara.
Marriages of Sextons
1) Mary Sexton married Josephum Viccars in Trusley, Derbyshire, England in April 1686
2) John Saxton or Sexton married Mary Worrall in Cheshire, England in June 1750
3) Joseph Sexton, age 21, a bricklayer, married Sarah Holt in Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, England in June 1736
4) John Sexton married Ellen Vaughan in Liverpool, England in May 1782
5) Charles Sexton married Mary Sankey in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England in February 1755
6) Thomas Sexton married Mary Cremen in Cork, Ireland in April 1868
7) Timothy Sexton married Betsey Griswold in Blandford, Hampden, Massachusetts in September 1799
8) Jesse Sexton married Anne Candel in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in March 1789
9) Alexander Sexton married Linna Cody in North Carolina in July 1838
10) James T. Sexton married Sarah J. McCluskey in Portia, Arkansas in August 1896
11) William O. Sexton married Amanda H. Conde in Rush, Indiana in March 1859
12) Sarah J. Sexton married E.C. Childers in Tiippah, Mississippi in November 1873
Early American and New World Settlers
Some of the earliest settlers in colonial America bearing this name include:
1) Thomas Sexton, age 17, came to Virginia c. 1624
2) Richard Sexton, age 24, came to Massachusetts in 1635
3) Robert Sexton, age 24, came to Massachusetts in 1635
4) Peter Sexton, age 20, came to Virginia in 1635
5) Giles or Gyles Sexton came to Massachusetts in 1630
6) Richard Sexton came to Connecticut in 1643
7) Richard Sexton came to Virginia in 1653
8) Nicholas Sexton came to Virginia in 1654
9) Jeremiah Sexton came to Maryland in 1660
10) Darby Sexton came to Maryland or Virginia in 1665
11) John Sexton came to Virginia c. 1667
12) Richard Sexton came to Maryland c. 1676
13) Thomas Sexton came to Maryland c. 1676
14) Patrick Sexton came to Maryland in 1680
15) Thomas Sexton came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1680
16) John Sexton came to Perth Amboy, New Jersey in 1685
17) Dorothy Sexton came to Virginia in 1694
18) Elizabeth Sexton came to Virginia in 1703
19) James Sexton came to Virginia in 1726
20) Thomas Sexton came to Virginia or Maryland in 1736
21) Nathaniel Sexton came to Maryland in 1742
22) Luke Sexton came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746
Several thousand members of the Sexton family came to the United States through Ellis Island, during the nineteenth century, including:
1) John Sexton came from Ireland aboard the CH Marshall in 1869
2) Mary Sexton came from Ireland aboard the Italy in 1871
3) Tommy Sexton came from England aboard the Manhattan in 1872
4) Mary Sexton came from England aboard the Pennsylvania in 1869
5) Mathew Sexton came from Ireland aboard the City of Antwerp in 1871
6) Mary Sexton came from Holywell, Rosecommom, Ireland aboard the Saxonia in 1916
7) Francis J. Sexton came from Longford, Ireland aboard the Teutonic in 1907
8) Maggie Sexton came from Cork, Ireland aboard the Teutonic in 1905
9) William V. Sexton came from Cork, Ireland aboard the Majestic in 1907
10) Patrick Sexton came from Fermoy aboard the Lucania in 1906
11) Martin Sexton came from Lissyycasey, Ireland aboard the Caronia in 1907
12) Michael Sexton came from Dublin, Ireland aboard the Germanic in 1903
Some of the earliest settlers in Canada bearing this name include:
1) Michael Sexton came to Halifax, Nova Scotia c. 1750
2) Johnathan Sexton, age 31, came to Ontario in 1811
3) John Sexton, age 22, came to Ontario in 1811
4) Conor Sexton, age 55, came to St. John New Brunswick in 1847
5) Patrick Sexton, age 55, came to St. John New Brunswick in 1847
6) Honor Sexton, age 55, came to St. John New Brunswick in 1848
Some of the earliest settlers in Australia bearing this name include:
1) William Sexton, a tailor by trade, came to New South Wales c. 1829.
2) William Bradshaw Sexton came to Kangaroo Island in 1837
3) James, Sarah, and George Sexton came to Adelaide aboard the Branken Moor in 1840
4) Timothy Sexton, age 29, Patrick Sexton, age 29, and Ann Sexton, age 20 came to Queensland aboard the Lobelia in 1865
5) John and Mary Sexton came from Claire, Ireland to New South Wales in 1858
6) Patrick, John, and Ellen Sexton came to New South Wales in 1850
7) Martin Sexton, age 20, and Ann Sexton, came to New South Wales in 1854
8) Bridget Sexton came to Tasmania in 1856
Some of the earliest settlers in New Zealand bearing this name include:
1) William Sexton came to Wellington in 1840
2) William Thomas Sexton, George, William, and Ellen came to Auckland aboard the Alfred in 1864
3) Margaret Sexton, age 28, a cook, came to Canterbury aboard the Lincoln in 1867
4) William Sexton, of Kent, England, a blacksmith by trade, came to Wellington aboard the Ocean Mail in 1874. His wife Harriet, and children Thomas, James, Edward, Emily, and Mary A. Sexton came as well.
There are hundreds of notable people with the Sexton surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include:
1) Buck Sexton (1982) is an American conservative TV host, radio host, and author who previously served as a CIA officer in the Counterterrorism center and also served in the Intelligence Division of the NYPD
2) William Sexton (1819-1895) was an Ontario farmer, political figure, and auctioneer who served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada from 1867-1879, born in Schenectady, New York
3) Tom Sexton (1928) is a professional ruby player (position hooker) who played from 2008-2016 for teams such as Leinster and Melbourne Rising, born in Melbourne, Australia
4) Rosemary Ann Sexton (1977) was a professional mixed martial arts fighter who was active between 2002-2014, with a record of 13-5, and also earned a PhD in Theoretical Computer Science
5) Sam Sexton (1984) is a professional boxer from Norwich, Norfolk, England who held the Commonwealth title from 2009-2010 and the British heavyweight title from 2017-2018
6) Leo Joseph Sexton (1909-1968) who was an American shot putter from Danvers, Massachusetts who won the gold medal for that event in the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles
7) Franklin Barlow Sexton (1828-1900) was a politician who served in the Confederate Congress during the American Civil War and was also a Texas State Senator, born in New Harmony, Indiana
8) Thomas Miles Sexton (1879-1946) was a Labour Party politician who served as a Member of Parliament for Barnard Castle from 1935-1945
9) Thomas William Sexton (1865-1934) was a baseball player who plated for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1884, born in Rock Island, Illinois
10) Thomas Sexton (1848-1932) was an Irish financial analyst, journalist, and nationalist political who was Lord Mayor of Dublin from 1888-1889 and was also a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons from 1880-1896, born in Ballygannon, Waterford
Sexton America Civil War Veterans
There were several soldiers with the last name Sexton who served in the American Civil War, including the following:
1) Joseph Z. Sexton of the 20th Regiment Indiana Infantry (Union)
2) Amasa P. Sexton of the 76th Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry (Union)
3) John B. Sexton of the 21st Regiment Missouri Infantry (Union)
4) Paschell Sexton of the 1st Regiment West Virginia Veteran Infantry (Union)
5) Edwin C. Sexton of the 20th Regiment Massachusetts Infantry(Union)
6) Henry Sexton of the 67th Regiment New York (Union)
7) Ebenezer P. Sexton of the 42nd Regiment Ohio Infantry (Union)
8) Samuel Sexton of the 1st Battalion South Carolina Infantry (Confederate)
9) James M. Sexton of the 10th Regiment Tennessee Cavalry (Confederate)
10) Benjamin F. Sexton of the 64th Regiment Virginia Mounted Infantry (Confederate)
11) Elijah Sexton of the 2nd Regiment Mississippi Cavalry (Confederate)
12) James R. Sexton of Madison’s Regiment Texas Cavalry (Confederate)
13) Alfred Sexton of the 6th Regiment Florida Infantry (Confederate)
14) Benjamin T. Sexton of the 2nd Battalion Alabama Light Artillery (Confederate)
Sexton America Revolution Veterans
There were several soldiers with the last name Sexton who served in the Revolutionary War, including the following:
1) Corporal William Sexton of Virginia
2) Archibald Sexton of Virginia
3) Lieutenant George Sexton
4) Private Jared Sexton of New Jersey
5) Private John Sexton of Virginia
6) Michael Sexton of Pennsylvania
7) Captain Samuel Sexton of New Jersey
8) Private Thomas Sexton of Delaware
9) Zepheniah Sexton of Vermont
10) Corporal Ezra Sexton of Connecticut
11) Private Gerret Sexton of New Jersey
12) Sergeant Timothy Sexton on New Jersey
13) Private Zachariah Sexton of Virginia
14) Sergeant Gilbert Sexton of New York
15) Jeremiah Sexton of North Carolina