Hilton Surname Meaning, History & Origin

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There is uncertainty as to how the name Hilton and its
variants Hylton and Hulton originated. The Hiltons of the
northeast believe that the name pre-dates the Norman Conquest and has
possibly a Viking origin. They look back to the year 924 when Adam de
Hilton presented a silver crucifix engraved with the Hylton arms to the
monastery at Hartlepool.
The original spelling is thought to be Hyltun, “hyl” meaning a hill and
“tun” a Norse word meaning first a fence, then an enclosure, and then a
town.  Did the place Hyltun,
a settlement on the hill, come first and the surname later; or was it
the other way round?
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Hilton Ancestry

England. Hilton is a name of
the northeast of England and also of the northwest.

Henry de Hilton,
lands from William the Conqueror, started building Hylton castle
Monkwearmouth, near present day Sunderland, in 1072. The barons
of Hilton remained stalwarts of the northeast for the next five hundred
years, inter-marrying with the other prominent families in the
region. Their story is recounted in the book, The Hiltons of Hylton Castle, by
E.W. Lamberton.

family position crumbled in the early 1600’s.
But this situation released many of the younger Hiltons who were among
the early
settlers in America.

Hilton may have been a name in the northeast. It was more of a
in Lancashire. The 19th century census data show that more than
60 percent of the Hiltons in England were to be found in the county of

Their presence dates from 1304 when Richard de Hulton
was recorded as a land owner at Westhougton near Bolton. This
family held sway there for a long time. However, they
will probably be remembered for the magistrate, William Hulton, who
in 1819 ordered the yeomanry to fire on the demonstrators in what has
become known as the
Peterloo massacre

The towns in this part of Lancashire became mill towns in the
19th century and the Hilton name can be found in parish records
in many of these mill towns, such as Oldham, Chorley, Stalybridge,
Blackburn, and Ashton under Lyme.

Abraham Hilton set up his
cotton mill at Croft Bank in Oldham in the early 1800’s. But most
Hiltons were mill workers, not mill owners. John Hilton was a
handloom weaver in Ashton under Lyme who was active in the Chartist
movement of the 1840’s. George Hilton was a yarn twister from
Stalybridge. His
son Jack Hylton,
known in his youth in Bolton as “the singing
millboy,” later became a celebrated British bandleader and

James Hilton from Leigh achieved renown as a
writer. The Hilton rugby league stadium in Leigh was named in his

America. Hiltons were among
the first English settlers in America, both in New England and in

New England. William
Hilton was onboard the Fortune
which sailed for New
England in 1621, a year after the Mayflower,
to bring succor to the struggling colonists. He
was soon joined by his wife and two children. Later, being
uncomfortable with the Puritan regime there, they moved onto what is
now New Hampshire.

Virginia and the Carolinas.
In 1663, William Hilton set sail from New
Hampshire on the Adventure to
explore the Carolina coastline. He didn’t stay; but left his name
to Hilton’s Head, now the well-known resort area. Other Hiltons
made it to Virginia, and later to Maryland.

Irish Hiltons. John
Hilton had
come to New York in 1811 from Derry in Ireland. Of his four sons,
two became lawyers, Archibald who died young and Henry who, through his
connections with the Tweed Ring, prospered exceedingly. Judge Henry Hilton
in fact became
one of the wealthiest men in the country, leaving an estate of four
million dollars on his death in 1899. However, he is most
remembered for his anti-semitism. As owner of the Grand Union
Hotel in Saratoga Springs, he instituted a policy that “no Israelites
should be permitted to stop at this hotel.” One of the first to
be excluded was Joseph Seligman, a prominent German Jewish banker and
friend of Abraham Lincoln.

Conrad Hilton. There
was, later, a more famous Hilton line which was not from England and
really a Hilton. Gus Hilton had arrived from Norway in the
1880’s. The family name, originally Nilsen, had been changed to
Hilton, the name of their farm outside Oslo.

His son,
Conrad Hilton, started his business life in 1919 by buying a small
inn in Texas. From these modest beginnings grew the Hilton
Hotels Corporation which Conrad ran until 1966 (when his son Barron
over). Paris
, the present day socialite, comes from this

Caribbean. Some Hiltons got
into the plantation business in Jamaica. One branch, in St. Ann
parish (Seven Oaks), can trace their ancestry back to James Hilton who
had arrived in the 1740’s; another branch in St. Elizabeth parish
(Hopewell), to William Hilton, born around 1820.


Select Hilton Miscellany

Hylton Castle.  The first castle on the site, built by Henry de Hilton, was likely to
have been built from wood around 1072. The castle was later re-built in
stone by Sir William Hylton as a four storey, gatehouse-style,
fortified manor house.  It was first mentioned in an inventory of
1448 as “a gatehouse constructed of stone.”

Although no construction details survive, it is believed the stone
castle was built sometime between 1390 and the early 1400’s (due to the
coat of arms featured above the west entrance).  Although called a
gatehouse, it belongs to a type of small late 14th century
castle.  The inventory taken on Sir William’s death in 1435
mentions a hall, chambers, two barns and a chapel, in addition to the
castle.  The gatehouse featured in another inventory taken in 1559
as the “tower” when floors and galleries had been inserted to subdivide
the great hall.

The ruins of the castle are said to be haunted by the ghost
of a murdered stable boy known locally as the Cauld Lad of
Hylton.  One story states that the stable boy was caught courting
Baron Hylton’s daughter and was killed.  Another story says that
the baron ordered that his horse be prepared for an important journey,
but the stable boy, Robert Skelton, had overslept.  The enraged
baron was then said to have killed the boy.

William Hulton and the Peterloo Massacre.  By 1819 William
Hulton has obtained a reputation as a man who could be relied upon to
deal severely with working class people arguing for political
reform.  It was therefore no surprise when he was appointed as
chairman of a new committee set up to deal with the social unrest that
was taking place in the new industrial towns.

On July 16, William Hulton and nine other magistrates met at a house in
Mount Street to discuss what they would do about the planned meeting at
St. Peter’s Field that day.  Hulton had already arranged for a
military force to be in Manchester to deal with the large number of
people expected to arrive to hear Henry Hunt speak on parliamentary

The house in Mount Street overlooked St. Peter’s Field and the
magistrates could see the large crowd assembling below.  After
watching events for a couple of hours, Hulton came to the conclusion
that “the town was in great danger.”  He therefore decided to read
the Riot Act and to arrest Henry Hunt and the other leaders of the
demonstration.  It was while the military were attempting to make
these arrests that eleven people were killed and over four hundred

William Hilton of Lucknow.  Sergeant William Hilton enlisted in 1825, landed in India in 1826, and
in time took up the position of Senior Sergeant at La Matiniere College
in Lucknow.  While there, he and his wife Jane had three children,
William, Edward, and Sarah.

He was amongst the members of the Lucknow garrison who
defended the Residency during the 1857 siege. All members of his family
survived.  William and his son Edward were both recipients of the
Mutiny Medal. William retained his position at La Martiniere College
until at least the late 1870’s.  His son Edward became a local
historian of the events that took place at the Residency during the

Today, William and Jane’s descendants are spread around
the globe, living in England, Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand,
Zimbabwe, and Denmark.

Jack Hylton Starts Out in Show Business.  Jack Hylton was born in 1892 at 75 Boundary Road in the village of
Great Lever on the outskirts of Bolton. Jack’s cousin Fred recalled the

“I remember Jack Hilton being born quite well.  His
mother was knitting a pair of socks to earn a shilling on the day he
was born.”

His father George worked in a cotton mill, along with a great number of
people in that area of Bolton in the late 1800’s.   However,
unlike most, Hilton senior seized the initiative to make a better life
for his wife and children.  He was an active trade unionist and
helped form a local Socialist Clarion Club.  Jack’s first interest
in singing would have developed through his father’s talent as an
amateur singer, mostly of Victorian ballads.

Amongst its many purposes, the Clarion Club offered music lessons to
local children.  It is here that Jack got his first real taste of
music at the age of seven.  By the time Jack reached the Higher
Grade school in Bolton, his father had become the licensee of a public
house called the Round Croft on James Street in Little Lever.
Here George would sing to the customers as well as serving them
drinks.  And it was here that Jack gave his first public
performances, accompanying his father as he sang the popular songs of
the day such as Thora and A
Miner’s Dream of Home

From the available evidence, Jack had no career intention other than
show business.  There is no record of his school successes or
failures and there is nothing to suggest that he began to work in the
cotton mills, as his father had.  By the time he was thirteen, he
had begun his first professional engagement in Rhyl.  Jack would
sweep the stage at Rhyl and dress as “Happy Jack Hylton, the Diminutive
Comedian” for £5 a week and a share of the collection.

Judge Henry Hilton and Joseph Seligman.  The Judge Henry Hilton who shut the doors to Joseph Seligman was a
prominent New York Irish politician, lawyer, and the executor of the
estate of the late A.T. Stewart, the merchant prince.

The press had a field day on Hilton’s action.  Some papers sided
with Hilton; but most opposed him.  American Jews were angry
because an attack on Seligman was deemed an attack on them, an assault
that was the more keenly felt because it was a rejection of a very rich
cultured gentleman.  So they declared war on Hilton and boycotted
his businesses.

Judge Hilton then retreated, offering gifts to local Jewish charities
and professing his respect for the old-line Jewish families.  He
said he was only opposed to “trade” Jews such as Seligman.
However, this explanation did not go down very well.

Seligman was in fact an old enemy of Hilton.  Hilton was a
pro-Tweed man, Seligman a member of the Committee of Seventy that had
fought Boss Tweed.

Paris Hilton’s Ancestry

  1. Nils Halvorsen (1775-1832), born Klofta, Ullensaker, Akershus
    married Kari Trulsdatter
  2. Halvor Nilsen (1810-1864), born Hilton, Ullensaker, Akershus
    married Karoline Hansdatter
  3. August (Gus) Halvorsen Hilton (1854-1919), born Hilton,
    Ullensatter, Akershus married Mary Laufersveiler died in San Antonio, Texas
  4. Conrad Hilton, hotelier (1887-1979), born San Antonio, Texas
    married Mary Barron died in Santa Monica, California
  5. Richard (Rick) Hilton, real estate (b. 1955), born Los
    Angeles, California married Kathy Richards
  6. Paris Hilton (b. 1981), born New York City


Select Hilton Names

  • Henry Hilton was the forbear of the Hilton family at
    Monkwearmouth in the northeast. 
  • Captain William Hilton was an
    early explorer of the southern coastline of the US. 
  • Jack Hylton was a celebrated British bandleader and
  • Conrad Hilton built up his Hilton Hotels Corporation into a worldwide hotel name.

Select Hilton Numbers Today

  • 24,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 9,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas).
  • 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Hilton and Like Surnames.

From our selection, these are the surnames of those who have made their business mark in America – as pioneers, inventors, developers, or corporate leaders – over its long history from colonial to modern times.




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