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About the study
I started this One-Name Study of ATHERTON in January 2009, though I had actually started my own family tree research 5 years earlier. Inevitably, brick walls and (because of my location) an initial lack of access to on-line records encouraged me to begin this Study. (Additionally by then I was retired!).
Nil variants to be considered initially.
This name, recorded as Atherton and Eatherton (Etherton is the subject of a separate ONS), is of 7th century Olde English and Anglo-Saxon origins. It is locational from a place so called in Lancashire. The earliest recording of this placename is found in the Fees Rolls of that county for the year 1212, when it is spelt as 'Aderton', and then later in the Post Mortem Records of 1322 as 'Atherton'. The name is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name 'Aethelhere', of uncertain etymology, and 'tun', a settlement, town; hence, 'Aethelhere's town'. During the Middle Ages, when it became common for people to migrate from their place of birth to seek work elsewhere, they would often adopt or be given the village name as a means of identification. This resulted in a wide dispersal of the name. An early example of the surname recording taken from authentic church registers include Roger Atherton, who married Elizabeth Stringfellowe, on September 22nd 1599, at Farnworth North, Prescot, Lancashire.
If anyone believes that the name originates elsewhere, I would be delighted to give them the opportunity to comment - after all, we are all human and, believe it or not, humans have been known to make errors!
Historical occurrences of the name
Amongst the interesting recordings associated with this surname is that of William Atherton, an early settler in the New World. He is reported as being granted a ticket to sail from the Barbadoes to Boston, New England, in October 1679. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry de Athertone, which was dated 1332, in the 'Subsidy Rolls of Lancashire', during the reign of King Edward 111, known as 'The Father of the Navy', 1327 - 1377.
In the ONS (Office of National Statistics - not to be confused with One-Name Study!) database for 2002 for England and Wales, the surname Atherton appears 10,715 time - this places the surname ranking at = 707. The database is also said to include a level of duplicate entries and misspelt surnames, as well as people currently living abroad and temporary visitors to England and Wales. However, experience suggests that multiplying the result of the surname by 0.93 will give a good idea of the living population of the surname.
Having now done most of my early research in the UK, with the occasional sidestep to US, Canada and Australia, I now wish to extend it to a more 'global' picture - I'm more than happy to discuss names and receive 'offerings' to assist my quest! In addition to these GRO Indexes (England & Wales) below, I do hold other data, so please do not hesitate to contact me! Data available to view currently:
Marriages from 1837 - 1911: Currently about 92% of spouses details are held.
I am the DNA Group Administrator for the surname ATHERTON. Details can be seen at: www.familytreedna.com/public/Atherton/default.aspx