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Our 2,728 members have registered
2,389 study surnames with us
and a further 6,077 variant names.

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About the study

The purpose of the Thornton one-name study is to research the surname, family branches and individuals with the name of Thornton, and their migrations, family ties, religions, occupations, etc. Our purpose includes analyzing data to document family lines and to reconstruct as many family lines as possible, no matter where they are found.

Variant names

The registered variants of the name are:

Thornton               Thorneton             Thorton

The most common deviant spellings are:

Thorenton              Thornten              Thorrington  

Thorington             Thorntun               Thorninton  

Thorinton               Thortoun [found in Scotland]

Less frequent deviant spellings are:

Thorrentun             Torton                

Thurneton              Thoretun

Name frequency

In a database of nearly 270,000 surnames, the Thornton surname ranks 304 among the most common surnames in England. 

The Thornton surname is nearly as common in the United States, ranking 347, of which nearly 70% are white individuals, over 30% black, and 1% Hispanic.

Distribution of the name

As early as 1089, the Doomsday Book records Thornton place names in Buckinghamshire, Cheshire, Dorset, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire. The Thornton name appears in Northumberland, Warwickshire and Somerset, by the 13th century. Other Thornton families are found in Scotland, in the Mearns, and Bathgate.                                 

The Thornton surname first appears in American records as early as 1609, when one Robert Thornton, a tradesman, merchant or farmer, invested in the Second Virginia Company to help found Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America.

Considering that nearly 1/3 of the Thornton families in the United States are non-white, it is likely that most Thornton families settled in the southern states. During the Civil War, 1081 Thornton men fought for the south, while 682 fought for the North.


The THORNTON surname DNA project would like to encourage any male with the Thornton surname to join the Thornton DNA project. The project currently has 286 members, with 5 different Haplogroups represented.

The success of the THORNTON Surname DNA Project will depend on the number of participants who join the project, as well as the documentation (dates and locations of baptisms, burials, marriages, census & land records, wills, etc.) to connect individuals within each group.

In order to connect immigrants in the United States, Canada, and Australia, we need more participants from the United Kingdom with documented pedigrees...and that's where YOU come in! Please consider getting your DNA tested. It is quick, easy, and a lot of fun reviewing the results!

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CONTACT: Langdon Hagen-Long at: