The surname of WHORTON was originally of German origin. A locational name 'the dweller on the independent farm' a place where one would be totally self sufficient. Local names usually denoted where a man held land. There were several small places of this name in Germany. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion, where it settled in Nether and Over Worton in Oxfordshire. The name was in Middle English WOROTUN, and literally meant the dweller at the kitchen garden. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. Early records of the name mention Simon Wurton who was recorded in the year 1297 in County Cornwell, and Geoffrey Worton of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Geoffrey Wortone appears in County Lancashire in the year 1400. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification.
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