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History of the Gorton Name

Kathryn Mae Gorton Thompson

The Saxon Chronicle is a manuscript which was painstakingly researched by Monks of the 10th Century and now dwells in the British Museum. Emerging through the chronicles of History is one of the Oldest Family Names. GORTON and the distinguished history of this Surname is interwoven into the tapestry of the History of England. Historical analysts have used many sources in the preparation of this history. Such as: The Doomsday Book, The Ragman Rolls (1291-1296) The Curig Regis Rolls, The Pipe Rolls, The Haerth Rolls, Parish Registers, Baptismals, Tax Records and other ancient documents and found the first record of the name GORTON was in Lancashire, England where they were seated from very ancient times some will say, well before the Roman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William of Hastings in 1066 A.D.

The Surname Gorton was found in the archives, the name was sometimes revealed as Gorton, Gorten, Gortin, Gordon and these changes in spelling occurred even between father and son. It was not uncommon for a person to be born with one spelling variation, married with another and for yet another, to appear on his gravestone. Scribes spelt the name the way it sounded as it was told to them. From Century to Century spellings changed. The Family name GORTON was found to be descended from the SAXON RACE. The SAXONS were a fair skinned people led by the BROTHERS GENERAL, Commanders Hengist and Hosa, who settled in England town about the year 400 AD. They settled first on the South British Coast, coming from the Rhine Valley. They spread north and westward from Kent and during the next four hundred years forced the Ancient Britons back into Wales and Cornwall to the West. Cumbria and Scotland to the north. The Angles held the Eastern Coastline. The South folk in Suffolk, the North Folk, in Norfolk. Under Anglo Saxon five century rule, the Nation divided into five separate Kingdoms. A high King being elected as Supreme Ruler.

Alfred the Great emerged in the 9th Century as the Saxon leader to dispel the Danish Invasion. England by 1066 was led by Harold "The King of the Saxons" and was enjoying reasonable Peace and Prosperity. The Norman Invasion from France under Duke William of Normandy and their victory at the Battle of Hastings found Saxon land owners to be forced to forfeit all of their lands. William with an Army of 40,000 men drove north wasting all of the land in his path. All of the Northern Counties were destroyed. Both rebellious Norman Nobles and Saxons fled over the border into Scotland. Those Saxons who remained were restive under Norman Rule. Many moved northward to the Midlands, Lancashire, and Yorkshire where Norman influence prevailed less.

The family name GORTON emerged as a Noble English Name in the County of Lancashire where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated at Gorton Near Manchester, until the early 1900s there was still a part of Manchester named Gorton, with manors and large estates in that area. One of the earliest records is of Sir Thomas Gorton (I have this manuscript) from the Manor Gorton. By the 13th Century the family had also acquired other estates in the County of Lancashire and became one of the Middle Ages Distinguished Lancastrian Families. The next two or three centuries found the Surname Gorton flourishing and contributing greatly to the culture of the British nation.

During 16, 17, and 18th Centuries, England was ravaged by religious conflicts. Protestantism, the new found Political fervor of Cromwellism and the remnants of the Roman Catholic Church rejected all but the most ardent followers. As each group gained power during these turbulent times many were burnt at the stake but many more were banished from the land. They lost all their titles, estates and status. Many families were truly encouraged to migrate to Ireland or to the Colonies. Some were rewarded with grants of lands and others were indentured as servants for as long as ten years.

In Ireland they became known as "The Adventurers for Land in Ireland". They were also known as "Undertakers". There is no evidence that the family name migrated to Ireland but this does not preclude the possibility of their scattered migration to that country. These unsettling times were disturbing and the new world beckoned the adventurous. Some came voluntarily from Ireland, some by Army service, but most came directly from England. Some moved to the European continent. Members of the family name Gorton sailed aboard the armada of small ships know as "The White Sails" which sailed the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships were pestilence ridden, sometimes up to 40% of the passenger lists never reached their destinations. Their numbers decimated by sickness and the elements and many were therefore buried at sea.

Included amongst the first migrants who settled in North America was Samuel Gorton in 1637, John Gorton Virginia in 1679, Steven Gorton in Virginia in 1635. Probably the most notorious and prolific Gorton Ancestor on the New America Colonies shores was Samuel Gorton. He and his wife Mary with the first two to three children and Samuels' brother Thomas came over on the boat "The Speedwell" landing in Boston in 1637. This Samuel is credited with being the first judge in the new world, a fair main, religious zealot and he hated the persecution of himself and his followers by the Puritans and was eventually banned by the Massachusetts Bay Society. He wrote a charter and went back to England presenting it to Parliament to gain his independence. Hence he lived in peace eventually settling in Warwick RI. He founded that town and served for many years on the Providence Plantations and General Assembly, Samuel Gorton was one of the first Governors of Rhode Island. Many books have been written about him. There is a 1907 Book by Adelos Gorton "The Life and Times of Samuel Gorton", a 1980 book by Thomas Gorton "Samuel Gorton of Rhode Island and His Descendents". These books included thousands of Gorton lines and ancestors.

When Samuel came over to the Colonies, the southern coast of Southern England was extremely overcrowded, near what is now Southampton, England. Today there is a huge ferry station where the Mayflower took off with ferries going back and forth to the Isle of Wight.

The new settlers, as Samuel Gorton, upon arriving in the New America Colonies found themselves yearning to see this vast land. The east coast of the Colonies were so overcrowded that from the port of entry on this coast, many settlers started trekking their way west. The Gorton name spread in the Americas. They were granted lands along the banks of the St. Lawrence River and the Niagara Peninsula. Samuel Gorton was great friends of the Indians and was granted most of the lands that are now the state of Rhode Island from the great Indian Chief Miantonomo. This is called the Showamet Purchase.

The Surname Gorton includes some very distinguished people. Including John Gorton is a famous Australian Politician. Slade Gorton was a Senator in Washington State in the U.S. Samuel Slade Gorton founded the huge company The Gorton Fisheries in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Thomas and Slade Gorton are very famous Gorton lawyers. Sir Thomas Gorton of England. There are approximately 5,500 people that have the Surname Gorton that live in the United States. The Gorton Coat of Arms is granted from an ancient grant to the family and it is described as Red with Gold Squares and a Gold Stripe across the top. Above the squares is the Head of a Goat symbolizing strength.

1999 Kathryn Mae Gorton Thompson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathryn Mae Gorton Thompson is from upstate New York and is a direct descendant of Samuel Gorton. Her line is: Samuel, John, John, William, William, Joseph, William, Warren, Edward, Edward, Kathryn. She started her genealogy research in 1972, and currently has thirty-three other Gorton cousins on the internet and sends out a bimonthly Gorton newsletter and so far has matched together thirteen families from the Gorton line.

David Rees Gorton's direct descendant line is: Samuel, Benjamin, Samuel, Benjamin, Thomas, Benjamin, Job, George, Rees, Henry Clay, David Rees.