Origins Langhorne Langhorn Longhorn Langthorne
three names Langhorn, Langhorne and Longhorn have a combined UK population of 894 today. This is a low figure for a surname suggesting it may not have an independent origin. In addition there are less than a hundred Longhornes. These names seem to have a relationship with Langthorne / Langthorn an even less numerous surname of about a hundred people, with which they share a similar geographic distribution. It is at once apparent that the second part of these names contains the common English words horn and thorn. They cannot both be the original ending and perhaps neither of them are. However, common words exert a significant pull towards themselves and similar forms are likely to drift towards them. .
The first part of the name is variously Lang (about 700) and Long (about 300). Lang is undoubtedly the more archaic and original form being the Anglo Saxon word ‘lange’ meaning long. The forms Langhorn(e) and Langthorn(e) are therefore older than Longhorn and Longthorne. Movement to the form long-horn rather than long-thorn may have been helped by the greater sense of meaning and utility of long horn over above long thorn. People are far more likely to use the phrase long horn either to speak of a musical/hunting instrument or cattle. Most people will never have had occasion to speak of a long thorn as in, ‘that rose has a long thorn.’ One might expect horn to win a battle with thorn. It has to be said that whilst both horn and thorn crop up as first syllable elements in place names they less commonly crop up as last syllable place names. .
So is there any village that might have spawned these names? One candidate is Langthorpe near Harrogate but there seems no evidence of Langthorpe becoming a surname. Another candidate is Langthorne a somewhat obscure village near Catterick. Whilst the number of Langhorne, Langhorn, Langthorne, people is only about a thousand it would be surprising if one small off the track village could spawn this many. In other words one might think that this might be the origin of some Langthornes but surely not all. If indeed it is an origin at all, one would expect a concentration of the name in the nearby towns of Catterick, Bedale, Leyburn, Hipswell, Richmond and Northallerton. It should be remembered that the Langthorne surname with a total of about 100 trails a poor fourth to Langhorn 387, Longhorn 306 and Langhorne 201. If Langthorne was the source of the name, the thorn element has almost entirely been replaced. It doesn’t look quite right. .
A further difficulty is that in Domesday Book the place is not even called Langthorn but Langet(h)orpe. Not a promising situation for surname development, although it does give evidence of drift in names towards recognisable elements like –thorn. So do the surname densities support this Langthorne village origin? Langhorn with 387(present) has its highest concentration in the Lake District in the Westmorland area in North West England with 0.11 per million (76 people in 1881). Longhorn 306 (present) also has its highest concentration in Westmorland (0.0452) 29 people (1881). Langhorne 201 at present is also highest in Westmorland 11 people (1881) 0.0171. It is fairly obvious that Langthorne in Yorkshire cannot be the source of the Langhorn/ Langhorne/Longhorn population in the English Lake District. .
Langhorn with its 387 population has concentrations of Westmorland .11, (76 people 1881), Cumberland .0095 (24 people), Cambridgeshire 0.0054(10 people), Northumberland .0054 (16 people). Whilst Yorkshire has 59 people, in terms of concentration it comes in eighth behind distant Suffolk with 0.002. Yorkshire also trails behind Lancashire which has the highest total 95 concentrated in the north west of the county bordering the Lake District. It has to be remembered that Yorkshire is a large county, three times the size of many other counties. If we multiplied its score by three it would move up to third place. Longhorn with 306 people has, Westmorland 29 people 0.0452, Yorkshire 204 people at 0.007, third Durham 49 people at 0.0049, Cumberland 12 people at 0.0048. Langhorne with 201 people has 11 in Westmorland at 0.0171, Cambridgeshire 9 people at 0.0049, Nottinghamshire 12 people at 0.0030, Durham 23 people at 0.0026, Yorkshire 41 people at 0.0014. County wise we see then that Yorkshire whilst having the highest total of these names has a relatively low density. It may therefore be important to know exactly where in Yorkshire the 304 resident Langhorn/Langhorne and Longhorns live. .
The best support for the Langthorne village origin of the names is that the village of Burniston ten miles north of Langthorne village which has 13 Longhorns at 3.6827. Perhaps the biggest support comes however from about 20 miles away over the county boundary in County Durham with the towns of Stockton and Darlington. Darlington has 20 Langhorns at 0.0596 and 22 Langhornes at 0.0656 the highest concentration. Stockton has 11 Longhorns at 0.0263 the third highest concentration. However, at the end of the day all we are talking about, is less than 100 people with these names within twenty five miles of the supposed point of origin of these names, Langthorne Yorkshire. The concentration of these names in Yorkshire in fact points somewhere else-the north bank of the Humber on both sides of Kingston-upon-Hull. Langhorn has a concentration of 15 people in Howden near Goole, Longhorn has the highest concentration in Holme on Spalding near Hull of 21 people with a further 14 in nearby Sutton Stoneferry. The very tip of Spurn Head at Kilsea has 16 Longhorns. Hook and Airmyn near Goole have 10 and 8 Longhorns between them. This is a higher total than the clusters within twenty five miles of Langthorne. The name Langhorne is represented some miles to the south of Langthorne around Keighley with Glusburn having 7 and Kildwick 6 The name Langthorne itself has a cluster in Darlington but its highest concentration is far south in Harrow in Middlesex. The case for Langthorne even in Yorkshire looks weak with most people with these surnames scattered someway away. .
.Perhaps there is an alternative explanation of names and the key may be to look at a connection between the Lake District (Westmorland/Cumberland) which has the highest concentrations and Yorkshire which has the highest numbers. These two areas are the parts of England that were settled by the Vikings. What we may have is something to do with accent. Let us turn to the most numerous of names Langhorn with 387 people today over half of which occur in the Lake District (Westmorland/Cumberland/Lancashire). Is there a village that sounds anything like Langhorn. Well there was but it got sacked by the Scots, the name is Langton now absorbed into Appleby in Westmorland. It should be remembered that Langhorn, Langhorne and Longhorn all have their highest concentrations in Westmorland. What we may have is a Viking pronunciation of what is a surviving Anglo-Saxon name. .
We know too that Langton gave rise to the Langton surname because Bishop Thomas Langton was from this Langton village, yet strangely there is a lack of other Langtons in the area. This would be explained if the local accent had taken them to Langhorn 195, Langhorne 30 and Longhorn 58. If Langhorn sprang from Langton in the Lake District what of Yorkshire with its 304 and its neighbour Durham with 104? Are there Langton villages there? There is a Langton village in County Durham near Darlington which, as already stated had 20 Langhorns and 22 Langhornes. There is also Great Langton a few miles from Langthorne village which could just as well explain the concentrations in Burneston, Darlington and Stockport. However these Langton villages do not seem to explain everything about what is a wide distribution in Yorkshire and Durham and which also crops up in smaller numbers in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Essex. Langton was in fact a famous Yorkshire name in both the cathedral and city with both archbishops and mayors. The name is widespread in Yorkshire and Durham. Whilst some of the horn and thorn names might have come directly from the Langton villages, some of them almost certainly came from drift from the Langton surname. The Wynyard Langtons were prominent near Stockton and this would explain the concentrations in Stockton and Darlington. A Walter Langeton (not to be confused with the Bishop) was a cleric in Keighley and that would explain the Keighley concentration. The Langtons were also represented by a Mayor in Hull, but they seem surprisingly thin along the north bank of the Humber which is because a lot of them became Longhorns. Essentially all places where these names occur already have strong Langton connections. Langton could sometimes be written Langthon and this aspiration of the ‘t’ may well represent a transitional pronunciation on the way to Langthorn and Langhorn both of which it should be noted contain an ‘h’. .
Surprisingly the surname Langthorne has its highest concentration not in Yorkshire but in Harrow in North West London. West London is also an area where Langton is strong apart from one place, Harrow, it is another example of name drift. We now possess evidence of confusion between the names Langton/Langthon/Langthorn/Langthorne in London. If you are a Langthorne in London the probability is that you are of Langton descent. A further link occurs in the same geographical direction, north west of London is Bedford. The name Langhorn(e) is recorded as having arms in Bedford in 1610 and later a barony which was extinct by 1714. This dies not mean that there aren’t surviving Langhornes or Langthornes descended from this family. If you are one of them please contact us. Lastly there is the scattering of these names in Cambridgeshire where Bishop John Langton/Langthon was chancellor of the University and in Suffolk and Essex. It is name drift. .
One intriguing example of this is in Essex where Stratford Langthorne Abbey is sometimes recorded as Stratford Langton Abbey. Stratford was divided into four parts, Stratford –Atte-Bow the famous bridge, Stratford Ham the pasture land are self explanatory but Langthorne suggests only rough ground which is admittedly possible. Langthorne here doesn’t seem to have given rise to the surname. Stratford Langthorne is in East London the surname occurs in West London.What the Abbey does have is a strong association with the Langton bishops and it is possible that this is how the abbey and the area got it’s additional name tag. Both Stephen and walter Langton had possession of the manor of Aveley further up the Thames coastline. The abbey was Cistercian, Stephen Langton was Cistercian. Leland says that the Abbey had a complete set of Stephen Langton voluminous works. This was probably so because this was the obvious safe place for him to keep his own copies. Walter who kept his mistress at Aveley must have passed through hundreds of times and it would have been the obvious place to change horses or stop the night. Further in Walter’s time the Abbey benefitted by being granted the advowsen of East Ham. The Abbeys coat of arms is a Langton coat of arms with three chevrons. It is sculptured in stone - 3 chevrons with a label of 3 indicating the shield of an eldest son. The same coat without the label is tinctured Or 3 chevrons gules over the doorway of the Romford Road entrance to University of East London. A further stone carving is over the Court House doorway. Walter makes a point of declaring himself an eldest son.
Further there is a group of shields that show that Langthorne and Langton were the same name in some people’s eyes or ears. Compare the following: Argent 6 annulets sable Langthorne; argent 6 annulets sable Langthon; Gold 6 annulets sable Langton and finally argent six cinquefoils gules Langthorne. But the last shield has a crest with a beer barrel also called a tun. This shows Langthorne is pronounced Langtun.
So if your name is Langhorn, Longhorn, Langhorne or Langthorne don’t start feeling you’ve lost your surname you haven’t. You still have the surname you had before you read this article, which has been in your family for generations. Now however you are part of a wider Langton family. If you are a London or Bedfordshire Langthorne or Langhorn we may well be able to match your DNA straight away. As such you are very relevant to one of the aims of our DNA project to try and identify which DNA belongs to which Langton village. You ultimately come from one of the Langton villages so please consider getting a DNA test. Please have a read of the DNA project articles and see the DNA article.