The surname of GARTON was a locational name 'of Garton', two parishes in the East Riding of Yorkshire, one in Holderness, the other near Great Driffield. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as "de", "atte", "by" or "in". The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. Following the Crusades in Europe a need was felt for a family name. This was recognized by those of noble blood, who realised the prestige and practical advantage it would add to their status. Early records of the name mention Willilmus de Garton who was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The acquisition of surnames in Europe during the past eight hundred years has been affected by many factors, including social class and social structure, naming practices in neighbouring cultures, and indigenous cultural tradition. On the whole, the richer and more powerful classes tended to acquire surnames earlier than the working classes and the poor, while surnames were quicker to catch on in urban areas than in more sparsely populated rural areas. These facts suggest that the origin of surnames is associated with the emergence of bureaucracies. As long as land tenure, military service, and fealty were matters of direct relationship between a lord and his vassals, the need did not arise for fixed distinguishing epithets to mark out one carl from another. But as societies became more complex, and as such matters as the management of tenure and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to have a more complex system of nomenclature to distinguish one individual from another reliably and unambiguously.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. (Woolavington, co. Sussex; descended from Thomas Garton, of London, merchant living temp. Queen Elizabeth, by Joan, his wife, dau. and heiress of Sir Richard Burford, Knt; the heiress Mary Garton, m. Robert Orme Esq.).
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