Walton Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Walton Meaning
The surname Walton derives from the Walton place-name of which there
were many around the country, such as Walton-on-Thames in Surrey,
Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex, Walton near Warrington in Cheshire, and
Walton Hall in west Yorkshire. Many of these Walton place-names
are now probably lost.
The root of the name appears to be the Old English wahl or wealas, terms by which Anglo-Saxon
immigrants called the native Celts of the land. Walton – with the
suffix tun or “hamlet” – may
have been the name given to settlements where these Celts

Walton Resources on

Walton Ancestry

Walton has been very much a northern name. Early
records show a
de Walton family in Cheshire from the 1200’s. Waltons of the
1600’s included:

  • Izaak
    , author of The
    Compleat Angler
    , who was born in Stafford
  • Brian Walton, the priest and author of the Polyglot Bible, who
    was born in north Yorkshire
  • and Swithin Walton, who followed Cromwell to Ireland and came
    from Leicestershire.

The Walton lead mining dynasty which spanned five generations began
with William Walton in Alston, Cumberland in the mid 1700’s. His
Walton family
at Alston
was to shape the mining industry in the north
Pennines for the
next two hundred years. Jacob Walton who headed the business in
the first half of the 19th century was to be its dominating
personality. Alastair Robertson’s 2004 book The Walton Family recounted the

Some Waltons at Weardale in Durham were at one time lead
miners. Roland Walton was recorded as being born in
Stanhope around 1692. Many Waltons there were Primitive
Methodists. One line led via John Walton, the coal merchant of
Walton & Gowland, to his son Joseph who became a prominent colliery
owner and Liberal politician.

The Walton
surname was brought to Ireland by English settlers. Captain
Swithin Walton established himself at Oysterhaven Bay, Kinsale in
county Cork in 1643. His family built a Georgian house, Walton
Court, on the property in the late 18th century.

“The Walton family archives and
historical documents show that they were a colorful family, relying on
smuggling brandy and silk from France for their living, outrunning the
English coastguard cutters in and out of the many local bays and

Robert Walton of this family emigrated to America and became a
civic engineer in Cincinnati, Ohio. In the 1880’s he built Walton
Court, a replica of his home in Ireland, at the Rugby community in
Tennessee founded by the English author Thomas Hughes.

. The first Walton in America was probably the
Puritan Rev. William Walton who with his wife Elizabeth were among the
early settlers of Hingham, Massachusetts in 1635 before moving onto
Marblehead. Josiah Walton’s 1898 booklet Walton Family Records traced this
family’s history.

James Walton came to America from England in the 1770’s and settled in
Maine. His descendants moved west in the 19th century, living
first in Missouri and then in Oklahoma where Sam Walton, the founder of
, was born.

Wesley Walton
also grew up in
Maine. He too headed west and was a pioneer in Utah.

Virginia. Robert
Walton was said to have been an English soldier who had come to
America in 1682 and bought land in Prince Edward county,
Virginia. His great grandson George, orphaned there as a child,
moved to Savannah and, as a representative for Georgia, was a signer of
the Declaration of Independence.

One line of this family arrived in Burke county, North Carolina in the
1790’s and were among its early settlers. A descendant Thomas
Walton published an account of these times in his 1894 book Sketches of the Pioneers.
Meanwhile, another Walton from Prince Edward county, William Walton,
migrated west in 1792 to the St. Louis area when it was still under
Spanish control. His son, Judge James Walton, owned several
plantations there.

John Walton, an immigrant into
Virginia in the 1640’s, is thought to have been the predecessor of the
Walton of Hanover county, Virginia who died in 1772, just prior to the
Revolution. He was a herbal or
“botanical” doctor by profession, the first of four generations of
physicians in this line.

His children
spread after the war:

  • the older siblings were dissenting Baptists who departed
    for Kentucky and Tennessee. Their
    offspring later went further westward to Missouri and Texas. Grandson Jessie
    made it to Texas.
  • while the younger children headed south to Georgia
    and later generations to Alabama and Florida.

The Waltons was a
fictional American TV series that ran from 1972 to 1981 and focused on
a family growing up in a rural Virginia community during the Great
Depression and World War Two. These Waltons traced
themselves back to the fictional Rome Walton who came and settled in
what came
to be known as Waltons Mountain in 1789.

Among the 102 emigrants from Alston in Cumberland on the Jason
in 1818 departing to Canada with
the promise of Government land grants were two Waltons, Robert and John. Joseph Walton from Alston settled with his
family in Smith township in Peterborough county, Ontario a year later;
while Thomas
and Jane Walton made their home in Scarborough township.

New Zealand. Joseph and Mary
Ann Walton and their son Joseph Lewis from Yorkshire came third class
on the Empress to Auckland in 1865.
Gordon Nicholls’ 1996 book A Walton Family History
covered the son
Joseph Lewis Walton (who died in 1925) and his contemporaries.


Walton Miscellany

Izaak Walton and The Compleat Angler.  Izaak Walton
was born in Stafford.  His father, an
innkeeper, died before Izaak was three and his mother then married
innkeeper.  Walton had probably some
schooling in Stafford, but he moved to London where he was apprenticed
to a
cloth merchant and then, for thirty years, was a proprietor of an
shop there.

Walton was a Royalist and
did not feel safe in London during the Commonwealth.
He consequently returned to live near his
birthplace in Stafford.  He bought some
land there, including a farm and a parcel of land at Shallowford.  Part of the attraction may have been that the
Meece river, which he mentioned in one of his poems, formed part of its
boundary.  Fishing and writing became his
pastimes.  The first edition of The
Compleat Angler
came out in
1653.  Walton continued to add to it for
next twenty five years.

The Compleat
was a combination of manual and meditation.  “Angling
may be said to be so like the
mathematics that it can never be fully learnt.”  The
work became one of the most reprinted
books in the history of British letters.

It was characteristic of Walton’s kindly nature that he left his
property at Shallowford for the benefit of the poor of his native town.  His
thatched 16th century half-timbered cottage is now a museum
commemorating his life. 

Waltons at Alston.  It was
the elder Jacob Walton who bought the Walton family home of Greenends.  In 1817 he moved his wife Mary and their
twelve children across the Nent valley to a long, rambling house then
known as Nentsbury Green Ends.  Re-christened
Greenends, it was to be the family home to successive
Waltons for
more than half a century.

Jacob the
elder had risen from wielding his own pick to being an employer of a
miners.  While the old man was still
alive his son Jacob seemed to have been very much in his shadow.

as soon as Jacob the younger became the
main “Jacob” in the Walton family, he became a real “adventurer.”  He had his hand in more than a dozen mines in
the north Pennines and was
undoubtedly the great
entrepreneur and businessman of the family.
He is commemorated by a stone and bronze memorial erected for
him by his
employees at Alston.  When he died
at the age of 53 in 1863, it was generally agreed that he had worked
into an early grave.

He left Greenends to his son John
Pears.  But the Waltons were not destined
to stay
there much longer.  John’s new wife,
Frances Belville, was a Londoner who was used to the bright lights and
of life in the capital.  Moving to Greenends – surrounded by moor and fell
and a carriage-ride to the nearest village – proved too much of a
shock.  In 1875 they uprooted to slightly
more urban Acomb.

But Greenends was kept on for another
years as a much-loved holiday home, a hunting lodge where the family
relax while chivvying the local grouse.

Waltons in the 1891 English Census.  Walton is very much a northern name.  The three northern counties of Yorkshire,
Lancashire and Durham accounted for just over half of the Walton population in England in the 1891 census.

County Numbers (000’s) Percent
Yorkshire    4.7    22
Lancashire    4.0    18
Durham    2.6    11
Elsewhere   11.0    49
Total   22.3

The Walton name was
particularly evident in Alston, Cumberland and in Stanhope, Durham.  The largest numbers in Yorkshire were in
Leeds, in Lancashire in Preston and Blackburn.

Henry Walton at a Slave Auction.  The following
narrative was based on family reminiscences and embellished for readability.

hand and foot, the timid
almost-teenage boy stepped on the block outside Market House in
Fayetteville.  Henry High Walton, freshly
delivered from
Georgia by slave train, was the next to be sold to the highest bidder
in North
Carolina’s most active slave market.

adapted to all sorts of misery.  They
could tolerate an evil master.  They
endured brutal drivers.  They adjusted to
working sun to sun with only food enough to sustain a squirrel. They endured the rod and whip as part of the
evilness of slavery.  Not much in life
shocked a slave and even less scared him – not even death.  Only one great fear hung like a storm-cloud
over his head.  That was being separated
from his family and sold to a distant owner.  Sold
off was worse than dying.

bad year for a Georgia plantation meant liquidation
of assets
which meant young folks like Henry were
stripped from their families, carted to Savannah in shackles then
tightly into boxcars on a slave train for a long ride to be sold to
plantations where the adapting
would start
over.  Being sold off was walking through
fire to end up in hell.

of those bad
years visited central Georgia was 1841.  The
cotton grew thin under a local drought, then a hailstorm in early fall
the standing crop.  Henry’s master could
not meet his banknote without the liquidation of some of his major
assets.  It made good sense to keep the
men-slaves from
mid-teens to late thirties, workers in their prime, and sell of most of
others. So Henry was on the block.

young, fit slave would bring top dollar from a plantation wanting a
strong back
that could offer many years’ return on the investment.  Henry
listened to the rhythm of the auctioneer
as the bid went higher but he never looked up.  It
was too depressing.  He was already
depressed and missed his mama
so much that his heart was heavier than a Georgia cotton bale.”

Jessie Walton, Texas Sheriff.  Jessie Walton, born in Virginia in 1807, moved west and south in stages – first to Tennessee and then to Arkansas
and finally arriving in Texas in 1850.

Jessie bought a farm on Briar Creek in
Navarro county in 1852.  He was elected
Constable in 1854 and then served as Sheriff from 1855 to 1860.

He had scarcely
time to get settled in office as sheriff when several men under
indictment for
the murder of a man by the name of Wells set fire to the courthouse in
1855 in order to destroy the indictment records.  A
wooden structure, it burned to the ground
with only a few county clerk records saved.
Runaway slaves and cattle thefts kept the sheriff busy after

later moved to Glen Rose in Texas where he is believed to have died in

Wesley Walton, Utah Pioneer.  Wesley Walton
grew up in Maine and spent a few years in his father’s law office in Portland
before being lured to California in 1872 by the gold rush stories.  He didn’t make it.  An
illness caused him to remain in Salt Lake
City.  There he met up with Brigham
Roberts and they went prospecting west of Salt Lake in the Oquirrh
mountains.  Brigham Roberts was a Mormon
and converted Wesley
to his faith.

In 1876 Wesley married
Frances Huffaker and they moved north to a two-room log cabin that he
had built
at Woodruff in northern Utah.  Success
came gradually in their sheep business and later in the breeding of
shorthorn cattle.  In 1890 Wesley had
land in Cottonwood where he built a new ranch.

banister down into the front hall was of beautiful wood and came
down in a very graceful curve. All of the children and grandchildren
found sliding
down it irresistible.  The front hall was
a large room with the walls decorated with the heads of many of the
animals the
boys had brought home from hunting.”

the turn of the century the family was living between their two homes.  With thirteen children there was a twenty six
year span in ages.  Most of the family
stayed in Salt Lake during the winter and spent their summers at the

In early anticipation of Utah becoming a
state, Wesley jumped right into the ring of politics.
He became Chairman of the State Republican
Committee, an honorary position he was to hold for thirty years, and
had a say
in the choice of the first Governor and Senator of the state.  Later he organized the Bank of Randolph and
the Utah and Wyoming Independent Telephone Company.
He was a state senator until his death in 1917.

Sam Walton and Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart founder
Sam Walton is often portrayed as a folksy, ol’ country boy, concerned about the
welfare of his workers.  According to
this myth, Sam drove around in a pick-up truck when he could have been
chauffeured in a limousine.  Mr. Sam, as
he liked his underlings to call him, didn’t care a hoot about money,
but only
about following his dream.  Beneath this
myth, however, was one tough businessman.

Sam Walton had opened his first discount store under the Wal-Mart name
in Rogers, Arkansas in 1961.  The idea of
a discount store was to sell a lower line of goods than a regular
store, but also to sell many of the same goods as regular department
stores at
a cheaper price.  How would that be
possible?  It required cost accounting
“savings.”  The discount store
could find some efficiencies of scale and also operate at a lower
profit margin
per unit good than a regular department store.
Walton used two tactics primarily to get his way, one towards
workers and the other towards his suppliers.

He resolved to pay his workers less, ferociously resisted any
unionization, and restricted most of his workers to working no more
than 28
hours per week – which would mean they would not qualify for employee
benefits.  Wal-Mart workers have earned
wage and benefit packages that have been 12-30 percent below those paid
workers in comparable jobs at unionized companies.
During most of Sam Walton’s reign, Wal-Mart
had an extraordinarily high worker turnover rate of 35-45 percent.

Walton also instituted a policy that
suppliers would have to sell goods to Wal-Mart at constantly lower
prices.  That forced them to cut expenses
and labor
costs.  Eventually this led to many of
these suppliers outsourcing their production to overseas sweatshops, a
that started to gain steam in the 1980’s under Sam Walton’s direction.



Walton Names

  • Izaak Walton was the
    author of The Compleat Angler.
  • George Walton was a signer in
    1776 of the Declaration of Independence. He later served as Georgia Governor and Senator.
  • Nancy Bird Walton was a
    pioneering Australian aviatrice.
  • Sir William Walton was an English composer who made his name in the 1920’s and 30’s.
  • Sam Walton was the founder of the ubiquitous retail chain Wal-Mart. He opened his first store in Arkansas in 1962.

Select Walton Numbers Today

  • 38,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Kent)
  • 26,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Walton 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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