by David Langton
England and Southern Scotland are characterised by rolling hills of sedimentary rock. The Anglo-Saxon for hill is –don from which we get downland and downs such as the South Downs and many place names such as Wimbledon.
A long hill was a Lang-don. In days before maps such long hills or ridges were the most obvious navigational markers. A settlement below a hill was a –ton from which we get the later word town. This too gives rise to many place names such as Bolton. A ton below a Lang-don ended up being called a Langton. There seems to have been some confusion and drift between the similar sounding endings –don and –ton. In reality although the hills (dons) were long (lang) the settlements (langtons) were actually quite small, in fact not lang at all. Where there were more than one settlement beneath a hill as in Kent and Staffordshire this tended to preserve the Langdon form.
Langdon also persevered in the south west of England but in most of England the dominant form became Langton. In some places this drifted to similar sounding Lanton, Linton, Loughton, Laughton, Lenton, Langthorne etc. Linton does not derive from Lyn (Welsh-pool) coupled with –ton (Saxon settlement). It is simply a drift of Lang to Lin.
In the southern and western parts of England there was a drift from the –t sound in Langton to –st giving Langston and eventually Langstone. These names form an arc down from Staffordshire through Warwickshire and Worcestershire through Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire to London. We are now better placed to explain the origins of this name distribution than we were a couple of years ago. It looks as if there are at least three, probably four and maybe more origins. We should therefor expect a similar number of genuine Langston DNA sequences.
1) There is a Langston/Langton in Solihull, Warwickshire near Birmingham.
2) There is a low lying Lang-don to the east of Evesham in Worcestershire.
3) Launton in Oxfordshire seems to have given rise to the Langton/Langston name.
4) Longdown south of Aylesbury looks to be the source of the biggest concentrations of Langstons and Landons in the country.
None of these groups of Langstons were connected with each other although they were interested in claiming a connection to a more famous group and sporting a similar shield if they could get away with it.
In the USA accent again played a part. You are unlikely to find a Langton south of North Carolina. Regardless of being Langton or Langston when the pioneer arrived they will be Langston now. In the north the reverse may be true. If you are a haplogroup j2b Langston you do not derive from English Langstons you derive from Langtons of North Lancshire. These name all have the same Lang-don geographic origin but once adopted by families they drift around to a whole variety of forms so that we do not know what the original one was just from our own surname. Fortunately DNA is largely stable it doesn’t drift like surnames. So if you are a Langton, Langston, Langstone or similar get yourself Y-DNA tested with FTDNA the leading company and we may be able to find out which village you come from.
David Langton November 2014 Copywright All rights reserved.