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About the study
The 'ton' ending to the name supplies the clue that it is probably locative in nature, i.e. referring to a specific place. Several possible candidates were found, including Willington (Cheshire, Derbyshire, County Durham etc.), Williton (Somerset), Wollerton (Shropshire), Wollaton (Nottinghamshire) and Willoughton (Lincolnshire). Since it quickly became obvious that the vast majority of instances of the surname were found in Lincolnshire, the last named place was settled on as its most likely origin. Meaning 'tun among willows' (a tun being a fenced enclosure from which the word 'town' derives), the place name is pronounced exactly the same as 'Willerton' and has been found with the same spelling on several occasions.
The village is to be found some 14 miles (22 km) North of Lincoln, about 2.5 miles (4 km) West of Ermine Street (the A15). The Ordnance Survey National Grid Reference is SK9293, on the OS 'Landranger' Sheet 112.
According to the "Surnames of England and Wales - the ONS list" website (http://www.taliesin-arlein.net/names/), the name "Willerton" ranked 7911th in the list of surnames found in England and Wales in 1998, when the name occurred 800 times in an ONS (Office of National Statistics) database containing 55.9 million people. This shows a frequency of occurrence of 14 Willertons per million, a decrease in frequency as established by the author's own researches in the available census indexes (1841-1911), when the frequency varied between 20 per million in 1881 and 17 per million in 1911.
No information regarding frequency of occurrence in Canada is available later than 1911, when 41 Willertons were enumerated in a total population of 7.2 million, a frequency of 6 per million
More recent data is available for the USA from the US Census Bureau. In the Federal Census of 2000 199 persons named 'Willerton' were enumerated, showing a frequency of 7 persons per ten million of the total population (281,421,906). The name ranked equal 86,992nd out of 151,671 names occurring more then 100 times. Full details of the American data can be found at https://www.census.gov/topics/population/genealogy/data/2000_surnames.html
Numbers of Willertons residing in Scotland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are too small to establish meaningful figures.
Distribution of the name
Data held in the study includes:
- All civil registrations of births, marriages and deaths indexed in England and Wales (1837 to 2005), Scotland (1855 to 2006) and Ireland (1845 to 1958)
- aproximately 2,500 parish register entries (baptisms, marriages and burials), 62% in Lincolnshire
- All UK census entries, 1841 to 1911
- All probates in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, the Lincolnshire Consistory Court and the Principal Probate Registry indexes, 1857 to 1990
- All entries in the Canadian censuses, 1861 to 1921
- All entries in the US Federal censuses 1820 to 1940
And much more!