Houston

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Houston Surname Genealogy

Houston
is a Scottish clan name that originated with Hugh de Padvinan, a Norman
knight templar, sometime around 1160. His lands in Renfrewshire
came to be called Houston. This either means Hugh’s town or, more
likely, is a derivation from the Gaelic Uisdean.
Spelling¬† Houston’s spelling varies. The Scottish clan can be Houston,
Huston, or Houstoun. In Ireland there has been Hughston and
Huseton as well
as Houston and Huston. Today, the numbers are approximately 75
percent Houston and 25 percent Huston. There is also the rare Houfton
name
.
Pronunciation. The pronunciation also varies. This is most evident in Houston
place-names
. New
Yorkers say “How”-ston, Texans say “Hue”-ston. “How”ston Street
in New York was named after the aristocratic Scotsman William Houstoun;
the city of
“Hue”ston in Texas after the Scots-Irish Sam Houston who defeated
Mexico to deliver Texas to the United States.The American
physicist William “How”ston must have been confusing to his friends as
he lived in “Hue”ston for most of his life.
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Houston Ancestry

Scotland.
The first recorded Houston was Sir Finlay de Hustone who appeared on
the Ragman Roll in 1296 of those swearing fealty to the English
king. His family held Houston castle and the surrounding village
in Renfrewshire until 1740, after which time they based themselves in
Whitburn, West Lothian. However, a Houston branch which had set
themselves up nearby, the Houstons of Johnstone,
prospered through the coal mines and cotton mills on their
estate. Another branch in Wigtownshire, the Houstons of Cotreoch,
can be traced back to the early 1500’s.

The main line of Houstons were prominent in court affairs in the 16th
and 17th
century, made baronets by Charles II in 1668, and subsequently
prospered in the 18th century from their American holdings (to such as
extent that, after the Revolutionary War, they renounced their Scottish
title in favor of their American position). Meanwhile, many other
Houstons had taken up the opportunities that had become available in
Ireland.

Some Houstons did remain. The
name spreads across Lanarkshire and into Ayrshire. Sir
Robert Houston of the Renfrew side of the family grew wealthy
from his shipping venture in Liverpool in the late 1800’s. In the
end, however, he was very much upstaged by his louder-than-life wife, Lady Lucy Houston.


Ireland.
Houstons came to Ireland in the 17th century as a result of the
Scottish plantations (of Protestant settlers), soldiers under Cromwell
who stayed, and, later, persecuted Covenanters. They settled
mainly in the Ulster counties of Antrim, Derry, Armagh, and Down.

An early arrival was Alexander Houston who operated a flax mill in
Broughshane, county Antrim. David Houston was a Covenant minister
who sought refuge in Ulster. He was present at the siege of
Londonderry
in 1689 and lived out his last years in county
Antrim. John Holmes Houston was one of the founders of the
Belfast Bank that was established in 1808.

Not all Houstons were well-to-do. During the
early 1700’s many Houstons lost their tenancies and there began
an exodus out of Ireland to America.


America.
The Scots Houstouns (“How”-stouns), as they
called themselves, were one of the wealthiest families in America at
the onset of the Revolutionary War. Sir Patrick Houstoun was an
early settler in Georgia, the owner of the Rosdue and Retreat
plantations. A Loyalist, he lost out after the War. But son
William took the American side and was elected a delegate to the
Continental Congress in New York. Another son John became the
Governor of Georgia in 1784. Their story is recounted in Edith
Johnston’s 1950 book The Houstouns
of Georgia.

There was a Huston family in Wells, Maine dating back to the early
1700’s (as described in Philip Harris’s 1952 book Hustons of New England).
David Houston came to Londonderry, New Hampshire from Ulster around
1720. His son Samuel was a member of George Washington’s elite
Life Guard until about 1780.

Scots Irish Arrivals
However, the main Houston/Huston influx was of Scots Irish and they
headed further south, into Pennsylvania, Virginia and North
Carolina from the 1720’s to the 1740’s:

  • John Houston arrived in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania in the
    1720’s and settled in the Pequea valley. The limestone house
    which he built in Leacock township still stands.
  • another John Houston arrived in the same county in 1734. A
    descendant David
    Houston
    was one of the first settlers in Kansas.
  • Samuel Huston was an early settler in Cumberland valley,
    Pennsylvania in the 1730’s
  • and David Houston was one of the
    first land-holders in the western part of North Carolina at this time.

Then there was the John Houston who arrived in Virginia in
the 1740’s and whose family later migrated to Tennessee. The
grandson was a certain Sam Houston.

“Sam Houston was a wild boy. Born
in the Shenandoah valley, he had run away in 1809 from the farm in
Tennessee that his family had moved to after his father’s death – to
live with the Cherokee Indians. He received little formal
education, less than six months he himself said later.”

This Sam
Houston
rose to become Governor of Tennessee, but departed
in acrimonious circumstances. He moved to Texas and improbably
led and won the war for Texas independence. The Rev. Samuel R.
Houston, the son of a first cousin to the Texas hero, published his
book Biographical Sketches of the
Houston Family
in 1882.

Canada. John Huston captained a schooner which supplied
provisions to the British army at Fort Lawrence, Nova Scotia in the
1750’s. He subsequently settled there and was an important figure
in the early history of the area (as farmer, merchant, and
politician).

Another John Huston had come to Ontario from Ireland
(via New York) sometime around 1818. He was a surveyor in the
Peterborough area and an active correspondent with relatives back in
Ireland. Much of this correspondence has been preserved. .

Charles Huston arrived in Quebec in the 1840’s. His descendants
later headed west to Manitoba. At the same time came Alexander
Huston, the forebear of some much more famous
Hustons
from Ireland. This family was
to include the actor Walter Huston and his son, the film-maker John
Huston.

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Houston Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:


Select Houston Names

Sam
Houston who defeated the Mexican army in 1836 was the first
Governor of the state of Texas. The city of
Houston
was named after him.
Charles W. Houston was the
civil rights lawyer who did much to dismantle the Jim Crow laws and
paved the way for the historic 1954 Brown
vs. Board of Education
decision.
John Huston, of Scots-Irish and
Canadian roots, was the maker of many classic American films of the
1940’s and 1950’s – such as The
Maltese Falcon
and The
African Queen
.
Whitney Houston was a hugely
popular American singer in the 1990’s. Her cousin was Dionne
Warwick and her godmother Aretha Franklin.


Select Houstons
Today

  • 9,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lanarkshire)
  • 24,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas)
  • 9,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).

 

 

 

 

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