Middleton Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Middleton Meaning
The surname Middleton originates from the place-name of which there are
over thirty instance of the name, at various locations in
Middleton village and Middleton manor in north
Warwickshire were recorded in the Domesday Book. The name also
cropped up in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Shropshire, and Sussex. The
root is the Old English midel meaning “middle” and tun “farm” or “settlement.”

Middleton Resources on

Middleton Ancestry

William de Middleton was a medieval Bishop of Norwich who lived in the
13th century.

Myddeltons have
been in Shropshire since the 14th century when the son of Rhirid
ap Dafydd of Myddelton became known as Philip Myddelton.
Sir Thomas Myddelton, a Welsh merchant whose
family had adopted this Myddelton name, acquired Chirk castle in 1595.
His family has continued to live
there to the present day.

Yorkshire. The
name Midelton cropped up in Yorkshire in 1273 and, later on, the
Middleton name was to be found in Yorkshire and the West
Midlands mainly. There was a Middleton family in Ilkley in
Yorkshire in
medieval times. They were a landowning family who lost out in the 16th
and 17th century because of their Catholic faith. Their plight was
discussed in The Middleton Papers,
series 161 of the Yorkshire Archaelogical Society.

Kate Middleton’s paternal ancestors were Leeds solicitors from
Yorkshire in the 19th century. Her grandfather Noel married Olive
Lupton from a well-to-do Leeds family. Her parents Michael and
Carole met when they were both working for British Airways.

Scotland. The Midilton
name was recorded in Arbroath in 1221. A Scottish Middleton
derived their name from lands at Middletoun near
Kincardine in
NE Scotland which they had held from the 12th century.

Its best known member was probably John Middleton who started out as a
pikeman in a Scottish regiment in France. He rose to become the
first Earl of Middleton and command the Scottish army for the King in
1648 and for Charles II following the Restoration. His son
Charles was a close advisor to James II and followed him into exile in

Wales. The Myddelton name
came to Wales when a Welsh family of Denbighshire married into the
Myddeltons of Shropshire and adopted their name. Richard
Myddelton was governor of Denbigh castle during Tudor times.

sons Thomas and Hugh set off to London to seek their fortune.
Thomas became one of the original shareholders of the East India
Company and Hugh
a goldsmith, such a successful one that he was
appointed Royal Jeweller to James I.

. The main Middleton presence in America has been
in South Carolina.

South Carolina.
In 1678 Edward Middleton and his brother Arthur
moved from Barbados to Charleston, South Carolina to start a plantation
there. Edward’s son Arthur, born there three years later, became
a well-established member of the Carolina gentry. Arthur
a wealthy plantation owner on land along the Ashley river, owning over
5,000 acres and employing more than a hundred slaves. A later
Arthur was a signer of the Declaration of Independence for South

The family position in South Carolina remained
until the time of the Civil War. Descendants spread across
South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and New Jersey and included the
Charles Middleton who
played Ming the Merciless in the Flash Gordon movies of the 1930’s.

The Scottish physician Peter Middleton practiced in New York City
after 1752 and was one of the founders of
the medical school at King’s College (now Columbia University) in 1767.
He sided with the British during the Revolutionary War.

James Middleton, the son of John and Susan Middleton, grew up in
Delaware and fought in the Revolutionary War. Afterwards he made
his home at Broad Creek in Sussex county. Descendants migrated to
Ohio and Indiana. The family line was covered in Hazel Middleton
Kendall’s 1932 book Middleton-Downing
Family History

Canada. One
Middleton family
in Canada began with Ezekiel and Elizabeth Middleton from Vermont who
the border into Leeds county, Ontario in 1800.

Meanwhile Charles and Elizabeth Middleton, newly married,
came to Toronto
from Kent in 1834. After they had been
in Toronto a year, Charles walked out alone into the wilderness and
80 acres to farm in the Huron tract. He
then returned and brought his young wife and family out to his new
homestead. The early years were tough. But befriending the local Chippewa Indians
turned out to be a good strategy.

Australia. Joseph
Middleton, a laborer from Northamptonshire, was on board the Buffalo
which took the first English colonists to South Australia in 1836. Ian Hutchinson’s 2012 book Middleton
Memoirs – A History of the Family of Joseph and Elizabeth Middleton

recounted this family’s history.


Middleton Miscellany

The Myddeltons of Chirk Castle and Their Red Bloody Hand.  Chirk castle was built in the late 13th century by Roger Mortimer, the Justice of North Wales for Edward 1.  The castle was sold for 5,000 UK pounds to Sir Thomas Myddelton in 1595 and his descendants have continued to live in a part of the castle today.

The iron
gates of the castle are dated 1719 and bear the coat of arms of the
family.  These
incorporate the red
“bloody” hand, three wolves’ heads, and an eagle’s head.

There are many accounts about the origin of
this red “bloody” hand.  One story tells
of a dispute which arose between two youths of the family over the
inheritance of the castle.  To settle the
dispute it was agreed that the two youths should run a race.  The winner would be the first to return and
touch the castle gates.  It was said that
the first youth to reach out to the gate at the finishing line was
deprived of
victory by a supporter of his adversary who drew his sword and cut off
youth’s outstretched hand – thus the “bloody” hand.
An alternative version of this story tells that they
swam across the castle lake and the first hand to touch the far shore
was cut

Another legend has it that the red
hand was a curse on the Myddelton family.
It was said that the curse would only be removed if a prisoner
in surviving imprisonment for ten years in Chirk castle’s notorious
dungeon.  No prisoner did in fact survive.

Then there is the story of a Myddelton
dressed in a white tunic who was badly injured in battle.
He placed his blood-covered hand on his tunic
and left the imprint of the bloody hand which then became the heraldic

Middletons in Warwickshire.  Middleton is
a small village in north Warwickshire mentioned in the Domesday Book.  The manor of Middleton was held by the de
until 1493 when it passed to the Willoughbys.
In the 17th century Middleton Hall was home to Francis
Willoughby, the
famed mathematician, and he and his descendants were granted the title
of Baron Middleton.

Middleton Lodge in Ilkley.  High above
Ilkley, to the west of Middleton village, stands the impressive
building most
local people call “The Monastery.”
The Lodge was built on the site of a medieval hamlet called
which came into the hands of Anne Meddilton, wife of Sir Peter
Middilton, in
1490.  The main features of the building
that can be seen today date from 1620.

a very early date the Lodge was a centre of the Catholic religion.
During the
days of persecution the recusant population of the county was to be
found in
small groups, at the centre of each of which was to be found “a
gentleman’s household.”  Jane
Middelton was listed as a recusant in 1580 and the Middelton family
true to the “ancient faith” despite heavy fines and
imprisonment.  Even today there are still
Catholic residents of Middleton village whose ancestors have been part
of this
local recusant tradition.

17th and 18th centuries the Lodge seemed to have served either as a
lodge or as a family second home with a Catholic priest in residence.  The Middelton’s main residence was at
Stockeld Park near Wetherby.

of the
Middelton family’s estate in Ilkley was sold off to raise money during
the 19th
century and the Lodge itself went in 1912.

Sir Hugh Myddelton and London’s Water Supply.  Sir Hugh Myddelton is chiefly remembered as the man who brought fresh water to London.
This is how residents of Myddelton Square, in the London Borough of
tend to think of him, and perhaps to associate him with the statue at

1576, he followed his older
brothers to London and apprenticed himself to Thomas Hartopp of the
Company.  His name first appears as a
liveryman of the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1592.
His goldsmith’s shop was to be found in Basinghall Street.  He supplied jewellery to Queen Elizabeth I
and two entries in state papers show sums of £250 paid
to Hugh Myddelton for jewels bestowed by King James I on his wife,
Queen Anne.

In 1605 he
served on a House of
Commons Committee to look into the possibility of bringing fresh water
from the
River Lea into central London.  Hugh
gradually became obsessed with the dream of improving London’s water
supply.  The villagers of Islington
complained that there
was not enough water.  Some of it was
drawn from wells and delivered by water carriers.  Quite
often it was contaminated. Hugh’s idea
was to find a way to bring water from the springs of Amwell and
Chadwell in
Hertfordshire, partly by means of an open channel and partly through
pipes, to a reservoir near his own city house – a distance of 38 miles.

he planned duly happened.  On September
29th, 1613, water was permitted to flow into the large reservoir at
what is now
the New River Head, the very day that his brother Thomas took office as
Mayor of London.

Hugh’s fame was
commemorated by the erection of many memorials.  In
1845 a statue of him was placed in a niche
on the north side of the newly rebuilt Royal Exchange and in 1862 a
statue of him in Elizabethan costume was erected on Islington Green.

Middletons in Scotland.  The name
of Middleton in Scotland is derived from the lands of Middletoun in
Kincardineshire, of which the Middleton family were in possession for
over four
hundred years.  Malcolm assumes the
Middleton name, having been granted these lands by the Scottish king in
1094.  Early Middletons were not always
respectable.  Gilbert Middleton was
recorded as an outlaw in 1317 for heading a band that attacked and
dignitaries of the church.

Laurence de
Middleton was sheriff of Forfar in 1481 and his son Gilbert assumed the
post in 1516.

In 1646 Robert Middleton
was stabbed to death by Montrose’s soldiers while sitting in his chair.  His grandson John distinguished himself during
the Civil War, initially ironically in the service of Montrose and then
in the
Royalist cause.  After the Restoration he
was made the Earl of Middleton.

Arthur and Henry Middleton of South Carolina.  Arthur
Middleton, born at the family Oaks plantation in South Carolina in 1681, became
active in
the early public life of the province.
He was President of the Convention that overthrew the Lords
in 1719 and served as acting Governor of the Colony from 1725 to 1730.

His son Henry was ranked as one of the
wealthiest, most influential and politically active men in the
He began construction of Middleton Place in 1741, a home that would
become both
an intellectual and emotional focus for successive generations of
Middletons.  He owned approximately 20 plantations that embraced
50,000 acres and about 800 slaves.

was Speaker of the Commons, Commissioner for Indian Affairs, and a
member of
the Governor’s Council until 1770 when he resigned the seat to become a
of opposition to British policy.  Henry was chosen to represent
Carolina in the first Continental Congress and was elected its
President in
1774.  He served for a year but, when asked to serve for another
declined due to reasons of health.

wanted to return to his home in Carolina and spend his remaining years
at the
Oaks with the knowledge that his son Arthur would succeed him in the
Continental Congress.


Middleton Names

  • Thomas Middleton was an
    English Jacobean playwright and poet.
  • Arthur Middleton of Charleston,
    South Carolina was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Charles Middleton, born in
    Leith in Scotland, joined the navy and rose to be First Lord of the Admiralty in 1805.
  • Kate Middleton married Prince William the future king of England in Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011.

Select Middleton Numbers Today

  • 31,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 14,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Middleton and Like Surnames.

The Anglo-Saxon word tun meaning “settlement” gave rise to many place-names with the suffix “-ton.”  And the place-name could become a surname describing someone who came from that place.  Sometimes the name was specific to just one location; but often the place-name could be found in various places and the surname would also crop up in a number of locations.  These are some of these place-name surnames that you can check out here.



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