Linton is a sizable surname in the UK with 3,635 people. About a third of these live in Scotland. It is a name of multiple origins, perhaps having very different roots. There are places called Linton in Roxburghshire, East and West Linton near Edinburgh, one in Cambridgeshire (Lintone in Domesday Book), two in Derbyshire (Linctune and Lintone), Herefordshire (Lintone, Lintune), Kent, four in Yorkshire (Lintone, Linton, Lipton and Luctone). In addition there are two places called Lanton near Kelso one each side of the border. The supposed origin of the name Linton is a hybrid of welsh lyn-lake or pool and Anglo Saxon ton –town. Whilst not impossible it does seem an unwarranted combination of welsh and English when the English had their own words, pool pond and mere. Arguably a better explanation is that all these places are a dialect version of Langton, dropping the ‘g’ and shortening the vowel to Linton. There is some evidence of this Lanton in Northumberland was originally Langton but changed to Lanton. There is also a place in the borders called Langton. So in the same small area we have a Langton, a Lanton that used to be a Langton, another Lanton and a Linton. Whilst there used to be a Langton population in the area that doesn’t seem to be the case now, and Lanton is almost extinct as a surname. Instead the Linton surname has by far its highest concentrations in Selkirkshire 91 people at 0.3443, Peebles 31 people at 0.2256 and Roxburghshire 29 people at 0.0548. It looks therefore as if there is drift from Langton to Linton. If surnames drift in this manner why not the place names before they took the form Linton.
Further evidence of drift from Langton comes from Domesday Book where one of the Langton villages in Yorkshire is three times recorded as Lanton. Clearly someone deriving their surname from this Yorkshire ‘Lanton’ could easily end up with Linton. Even if Linton place names have a lang-ton origin they are a separate surname now. What would interest me would be if there has been more recent drift in which case we would be interested in any DNA test results you may have as there is a reasonable chance that they might match a Langton sample. Let’s start by saying where we don’t expect matches. We don’t expect matches for Scotland apart from the borders around Selkirk. Neither do we expect matches for Worcestershire, Cambridgeshire or Huntingdonshire. We suspect most Lintons in Yorkshire and Durham have always been Lintons but there may have been some drift from Langton. London looks a better candidate for drift. If you live in these areas and have results feel free to send them in. .
That leaves two areas which we really are interested in. The first is Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles. The town of Selkirk alone has 65 Lintons. There are reasonable grounds for thinking you were originally Langtons. You may even have traced back and found Lanton or Langton in your family tree. Essentially you’ve got Linton the Scottish version of the name, but the English version Langton also belongs to you. Please read the DNA project article. The second area we are interested in is Cumberland/North West Lancashire. There doesn’t seem to be a Linton village round here yet Carlisle has a high Linton concentration. There are grounds for thinking there may have been a drift from Langton. There is a Langton village near Appleby. Again please look at the DNA project. .
Lastly, let’s turn once more to the almost extinct Lantons, there were only 48 in the 1881 census. They fall into different groups. Some are a drift from south west Langdons Devon 4, Cornwall 3 Gloucester (Bristol) 3 and some from Kent Langdons Kent 3 Sussex 4. Most are probably a drift from Langton Yorkshire 16, Lancashire 3, London 2, Staffordshire 2, Northamptonshire 1, Shropshire 1, Berkshire 1. Finally in Elswick, Newcastle there were 2. That is really interesting because they could be descended from the village of Lanton in Northumberland. If you are descended from these Elswick people, please get your DNA tested and let us know the results. If you are in the list that probably descends from Langtons then please read the DNA article.