This surname THORTON is of two-fold origin. It was a German habitation name for someone who lived near the gates of a town or an occupational name for someone responsible for guarding them. The name was derived from the Old German word TOR. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. It is also a Swedish given name containing the first element THOR (in Old Norman the name was rendered as PORR) the name of the God of Thunder in Scandinavian mythology. Other spellings of the name include THORSTEINSON, THORMAN, THORMANN, DOHR, DOHRMAN, DORWART, AMDOHR, THORL, DORL, THORESSON and THURESSON to name but a few.
Steingrimur THORSTEINSSON (1831-1913) was the Icelandic poet and scholar, born in Arnarstapi on Snaefellsnes. He studied classical philology and modern European literature at Copenhagen and worked there from 1863 until 1872, where he wrote patriotic poetry. His major importance was to enrich Icelandic native culture through translations of all the modern European poets, as well as 'King Lear', 'The Arabian Nights' and 'Robinson Crusoe'. In the 17th century, so-called 'soldiers' names are found as the earliest kind of hereditary surnames in Sweden. These names were derived from vocabulary words, usually martial-sounding monosyllables such as Rapp (prompt) Rask (bold), or occasionally names of animals and birds. The names were bestowed on soldiers for administrative purposes, and no doubt in some cases derived from pre-existing nicknames.
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