Hawthorne Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Hawthorne Meaning
surname in olden times denoted someone who lived by a bush or hedge of
hawthorn. The Old English word was haegborn or hagethorn and meant “thorn
used for making hedges and
enclosures.” The main surname spelling
variants today are Hawthorne and
with Hathorne and Hathorn less in use now

Hawthorne Resources on

Hawthorne Ancestry

England. The
first evidence of the Hawthorne name in England
was the village of Hagethorn (now called Hawthorn) in the parish of
in Durham in which, according to priory records, William de Hagethorn
living in 1155. Whether there was
succession from him is not known, although there have been some
suggestions that the Scottish Hawthornes may have come from Durham.

The Hawthorn
place-name was also found in Staffordshire.
One family line began with the marriage of William Hawthorne and
Elizabeth Hemming there in 1682. The
county had about 20% of the English Hawthorns and
Hawthornes in the 1881 census.

Hawthornes at Bray in
Berkshire date back to the mid-1400’s.
However, this line was later much more important for America
than for
England. Some oral history of these
survived in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story An
Old Woman’s Tale
. Hawthorns
in nearby Sunninghill have been traced to the early 1800’s.

Scotland. Hawthorn in
Scotland is an old Galloway name of SW Scotland. The
name first appeared in Kirkinner parish
records in 1455. They were in later
years proprietors of Meikle Aires in that parish. Some of them crossed to Ireland at the time
of the Ulster plantation, such as Elizabeth Hawthorn of Meikle Aires
who arrived
in Derry in 1690.

Hawthorns in the 19th
century included some Scots Irish such as Steel Hawthorn, who came to
work in
the coal mines in Lanarkshire in the 1820’s, and William Hawthorn,
recorded as
a cotton weaver in Ayr in the 1850’s.

Ireland. Early sightings of the
Hawthorne name in
Ireland were sparse, although they were clearly there because of the
migrations to America in the 18th century.
Some Scots Irish Hawthorns recorded at that time in Ulster were:

  • William
    Hawthorn who was born at Annaghmore in Derry in 1718.
  • Archibald
    Hawthorn of
    Legananny who died at Aghderg in Down in 1749.
  • and
    James Hawthorn who was
    recorded at Islandmagee in Antrim in 1772.

Rev. Samuel Hawthorne
was the Presbyterian minister at
Kircubbin in county
Down from 1869 to 1912. From his family
came William Hawthorne, an electrical engineer who moved to England in
early 1900’s; and his son William, born in Newcastle, who was knighted
for his
work on the development of the jet engine.

The 1890 census revealed 27
Hawthorne families in Ireland, of whom 23 were to be found in Antrim,
Down and

Hathornes of Bray in Berkshire contributed two Hathorne lines, one in
Massachusetts and the other in the South.

Massachusetts. William Hathorne came
to New England with
Governor Winthrop on the Arbella
in 1630, moving to Salem six years later. He
was prominent in the defense of the town
against Indians. He also prospered, as
did his son John, as a merchant. However,
there was a darker side to both of
these men:

  • William
    Hathorne was a bitter persecutor of Quakers, remembered in
    particular for the whipping of Ann Coleman in 1662.
  • while
    John Hathorne was the
    presiding judge in the Salem witch trials of 1692, from whence is
    supposed to
    have come the
    Hathorne curse

Hathorne was the great great grandfather of the
writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, born in Salem in 1804, who was thought to
added the “w” to his name just to distance himself from his ancestors.

A younger
John of this family had moved from Salem to Lynn around the year 1650. He was not like the other early Hathorne
men. He was not on the bench or running
the affairs of a pious Puritan colony.
He ran taverns instead and there were many reports of
drunkenness in his
house. A descendant was General John
Hathorn who fought in the Revolutionary War.
His home at Warwick in upstate New York, built in 1773, still

family story through seven generations was narrated in Vernon Loggins’
book The Hawthornes.

South. John Hawthorne came to Surry
county, Virginia
from Bray in Berkshire around the year 1700.
His descendants later moved to Robeson county, North Carolina. The main lines from there went:

  • from
    William Hawthorn,
    a Baptist minister, who in the 1820’s was
    among the first
    men to
    settle in what is now Grady county in SW Georgia.
  • from
    Kedar Hawthorne to the Rev. Kedar Hawthorne who moved to Conecuh
    Alabama around 1820 and converted there to the Baptist faith. His brothers Nathaniel and Dennis were also
    Baptist ministers and his son James B. Hawthorne,
    a pastor in Atlanta and Nashville, was a strong preacher in the
    Baptist tradition.
  • from
    Joshua Hawthorne to Joseph Richard Hawthorne who was a
    wealthy landowner and planter first in Conecuh and then in Wilcox
    Alabama. His Hawthorne House at Pine
    Apple, built in
    1854, is a historic plantation house.

Some other Hawthornes were from Ireland. Adam
Hawthorn left county Monaghan as part of
a Presbyterian exodus for Charleston, South Carolina in 1767. He settled in what is now Winnsboro,

Then Samuel Hawthorne, thought to have been from somewhere in Ireland,
came to
Mercer county, Pennsylvania in the 1770’s.
His grandsons James (J.C.) and William were both adventurous

  • J.C.
    Hawthorne studied medicine which he first practiced when he arrived in
    California in 1850. Seven years later he
    moved to Oregon where he established a county hospital in Portland. He was considered a pioneer in treating
    mental illness there.
  • while
    his cousin William Hawthorne arrived in California
    in 1856, having taken the longer route via the isthmus.
    He too moved on, in this case to Nevada in
    1860 where he prospered and became a judge.

Baskin Hathorn, born in Ireland (possibly Cork),
immigrated first to South Carolina, and then to Georgia, and finally
settled in
Covington county, Mississippi around 1818.
He was probably responsible for the large number of Hathorns
found in
Mississippi. He and his son Nevin were
both slave-owners.

possibly related Hathorn family had its origin in Nick Hathorn, who was
born in
South Carolina and came to Covington county around 1825.
His son Daniel Hathorn was friends with the Wild
Bill Sullivan of the Mississippi backwoods.
The Hathorn name also cropped up in nearby Jefferson Davis

The Federal census of
1860 had no fewer than 60 slaves named Hathorn recorded in the state. Pauline Hathorn, who grew up on the Paradise
plantation in Dover during the Great Depression, charted her remarkable
journey from that lowly position in her 2009 book Escape
from Paradise

and Eliza Hawthorne
Derry for Ontario in 1848, eventually settling in
Morris township in Huron county. Many of
their descendants later migrated west, to Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Meanwhile Robert Hawthorne left Antrim for
Ontario in the same year of 1848 and settled in Ross township in
Renfrew county
with his second wife Ann. All these
pioneer settlers lived to a grand old age – James to ninety, Eliza to
two, Robert to eighty five, and Ann to ninety two.

Australia and New Zealand. The
Hawthornes shown here also had Irish origins.
James Hawthorne departed Belfast in 1840 at the age of seventeen
arrived in Sydney late that year on the Royal
. He married and settled
down there. Alfred Hawthorne was born in
London, although his father had come there from Ireland.
He was in New Zealand by the early 1870’s where
he eventually made his home in Birmingham


Hawthorne Miscellany

Hawthorns and Hawthornes Today.  Hawthorn and
Hawthorne are the main spellings today, with Hawthorne predominating.

Numbers (000’s) Hawthorn Hawthorne
UK 2     4
America     6
Elsewhere     1     4
Total     3    14

the highest concentration of the Hawthorne name in the UK is in
Ireland.  The Hathorn spelling has almost
dropped out of use.  It is still found in
the South, mainly in Mississippi.

An Old Woman’s Tale.  There was said to have been a Hawthorne who established an
inn at the foot of Hawthorne Hill on the ancient road between London
Oxford.   The sign of the inn known
as The Woodman showed a green-coated forester, axe raised
about to chop
into the trunk of a great gray oak.

Hawthorne related the oral
tradition of the legend of the recovered Roman treasure by the humble
innkeeper that was
his ancestor in An Old Woman’s Tale.

The Hathorne Curse.  Judge John Hathorne presided over the famous Salem witch trials in the 1690’s.  He believed he was cursed by one of the
convicted witches.

The judge appeared to have been excessively harsh on Sarah
Good during his examination of her.  In
Arthur Miller’s 1953 play
The Crucible, he was depicted as a
biased and vindictive judge who acted more like a prosecutor than an

Sarah Good was said to have issued a curse
on her way to the gallows.  When the Rev.
Nicholas Noyes asked her to confess, she exclaimed: “I am no more of a
witch than you are a wizard, and if you take my life, God will give you
to drink.” The Rev. Nicholas Noyes later choked on his own blood in

The judge’s descendant Nathaniel Hawthorne knew about the curse and, in
part, his novel The House of the Seven
was based upon this curse.   In
The Custom House (an introduction to The
Scarlet Letter
), Nathaniel expressed
his disapproval of his great grandfather’s acts and he attempted to
the curse:

all events, I, the present writer, as their representative,
hereby take shame upon myself for their sakes, and pray that any curse
by them–as I have heard, and as the dreary and unprosperous condition
of the
race, for many a long year back, would argue to exist–may be now and
henceforth removed.”

Nathaniel added the “w” to his surname after
finishing college probably to disassociate himself from his ancestors.

John Hawthorne and the Elder William Hawthorn.  John Hawthorne was born in Surry county, Virginia in 1740 and as a young man
moved to Robeson county, South Carolina.
Later on, he fought as a lieutenant in the Revolutionary War.  His two eldest sons Nathaniel and William
also served.  Nathaniel died in the
conflict, but both John and William survived.
After the war John was granted a land lottery for his services
and in
1820, now an old man, moved to Georgia.
He died there in 1836 at the ripe old age of ninety six.

(he tended to spell his name without an “e”) had been born in Robeson
county in
1762 and moved to Georgia earlier than his father, around 1806.  He made his home in Pulaski county, became a
Baptist minister, and was elected a state senator.

1822 he gave up his
position and blazed a trail through forty miles of wilderness to what
is now
the Grady county area of SW Georgia.
Finding the area to his liking, he and his family settled along
the area
of Tired Creek about three miles south of the present location of Cairo.  The route he took is now known as the
Hawthorn Trail in his honor because of its role in opening up SW
Georgia for

1826 William organized
the constitution of Tired Creek Baptist church and was called to be its
pastor.  He served there until 1838.  Elder Hawthorn died in 1846 and was buried in
the cemetery there.

The Rev. Samuel Hawthorne of Kircubbin.  The Rev. Samuel Hawthorne became the fourth minister of
the Presbyterian church at Kircubbin in county Down in 1869.  He was then aged just 27 after having
graduated five years earlier from Queen’s University in Belfast.  He was the second son of William Hawthorne, a
respectable farmer and rigid Covenanter who, until his death at the age
of 92,
repeated at family prayers every Sabbath morning the Prologue to the
League and Covenant.

In 1873, when on a
visit to Hamburg in 1873, Samuel happened to meet a Miss Alice
Peterson, the
daughter of a Yorkshire merchant who had settled in that town.  He went back the following year and married
her and the couple returned to county Down.
Their son William was born in 1878.

Rev. Hawthorne’s ministry at
Kircubbin was of long duration, extending until 1912.
During that time his son William completed his
studies at Queen’s University as an electrical engineer and left for
where he worked on the electrification of the railways around Newcastle.

wife Alice died in 1912 and Samuel decided to retire.
During his ministry he had baptized 620 children
and performed 112 marriages.  At the time
of the Great War he went to live in Edinburgh where his daughter was in
training.   He died there in 1924. 

James and Eliza Hawthorne in Canada.  The Brussels Post
of Wingham in Huron county, Ontario reported the following on September 17, 1903:

September 3rd
1903 there passed away at his residence in Lower Wingham James
Hawthorne, one
of the early settlers of Morris township, at the age of ninety
years.   The deceased was born in the
county of Derry in
Ireland.  His life partner, whose maiden name was Marshall,
survives him
bearing the weight of ninety years.

their family of five children
they left Ireland in 1848 and came to Canada, settling first in
Kingston and
four years later removing to Colbourne township.  Nine years
afterwards in
1862, they removed to the township of Morris where they resided until
years ago.  Ten children were born to them of whom seven
remain.  The
deceased was a member of the Presbyterian Church.”

wife Eliza was not to
outlive her husband long.  She had headed
out west to Manitoba to live with her son William and his family.  The Wingham
reported on December 15, 1904:

Eliza Hawthorne a former resident
of this section died at Waskada, Manitoba on Friday last aged 92
Mrs. Hawthorne left here some nine months ago for the West.  The
are being brought home and the funeral will take place in Lower Wingham
Thursday afternoon.”

son William died in Manitoba in 1911 in his 67th
year.  He had come to Manitoba from
Morris township in 1888 and been a farmer there.



Hawthorne Names

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne was a 19th century
    American novelist and short story writer.   
  • Michael Hawthorn was the British racing
    driver who became the UK’s first F1 World Racing Champion in 1958. 
  • Nigel Hawthorne was a British actor best
    known for his scheming civil servant Sir Humphrey in the TV series Yes Minister

Select Hawthorne Numbers Today

  • 6,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Northern Ireland)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Hawthorne and Like Surnames

These are the names of some literary giants.  If you are interested in the name behind the literary figure, please click on the surname below.





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