The surname of HORTON was a locational name 'of Horton' a township in the parish of Bradford, Yorkshire. A township in the parish of Gisburn, Yorkshire, and Horton-de-Ribblesdale, near Settle, Yorkshire. The name was derived from the Old English word HEORTA-TUN, literally meaning the dweller where the stag's dwelt. Early records of the name mention (HERTON) without surname, who was listed in Berkshire in the year 1303. Thomas de Horton, 1273 Devon. Dionisa de Horton of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John Horton married Sarah Leighton at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in 1680. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. A notable member of the name was Lester Horton (1906-53) an American choreographer and teacher, born in Indianapolis, Indiana. he studied ballet and was greatly influenced by the Japanese movement theatre and Native American dancing. He formed a dance company in the early 1930's, designing sets and costumes, as well as devising dances. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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