During the Middle Ages surnames were first used in order to distinguish between numbers of people bearing the same christian name. As taxation, under William The Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066, became the law, documentation became essential, and names were chosen from a man's trade, his father's name, some personal physical characteristic, or from his place of residence. In the case of the name NEWTON it was a locational name from many of the various places so called throughout England. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Gunnora de NEUTONE, who was recorded in County Suffolk in the year 1273, and Ralph de NEUTONE who was documented in Hampshire in the same year. Willelmus de NEWETON of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. Later instances of the name include John NEWTON of County Salop, who registered at Oxford University in the year 1579, and Thomas, son of Thomas NEWTON was baptised at St. Peter, Cornhill, London in the year 1683. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe. A notable member of the name was John NEWTON (1725-1807) the English clergyman and writer, born in London, the son of a shipmaster. He sailed with his father for six years, and for ten years engaged in the African slave trade. In 1748 he converted to Christianity. In 1799 he became rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London.
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