The Mysterious Case of the Lost Langtons of Scotland, Northumbria and Hull
Historical note. As some of you may be Americans let's start with a brief bit of geography and history. The Anglo-Saxons later known as the English took possession of the country in the 5th-7th centuries invading the eastern coast from what was later to be Holland, Germany and Denmark. The original Anglo Saxons settled not only in England but in what is now South East Scotland as far up as Edinburgh.
In the ninth century the Viking invasions cut the English in two with the bulk in the south and west but another group in the north stretching from Newcastle up to Edinburgh. Whilst the descendants of Alfred the Great gradually pushed the Vikings back into an area known as Yorkshire, the English group to the north were pretty much left to their own devices.
After the Norman conquest in 1066 and a rebellion a few years later the Normans destroyed the north of England in what was known as the harrying of the north. Once again the ethnic English population in the extreme north was left pretty much isolated. The end result was an arbitrary division of this isolated ethnic group into two. The southern part became Northumberland the most northerly English county. The northern part became south east Scotland. This division produced interesting results, it meant that there was a common language both sides of the border, English, Langton (Lanton) villages both sides of the border 2 in Scotland 1 in England and also that the population referred to themselves as borderers.
The town on the border Berwick swapped hands between England and Scotland more than a dozen times and today the town of Berwick is in England and part of the county of Northumberland whereas the county of Berwickshire is in Scotland but doesn't contain Berwick. So from south to north just below Newcastle we have County Durham which has its own Langton village in the extreme south.
From Newcastle upwards we have Northumberland which stretches up to Berwick town and the Scottish border. On the English side not far from Berwick is Lanton. Crossing the border we come to Langton near Berwick and then travelling inland still on the Scottish side we come to another Lanton.
John and William Langton, baker and goldsmith respectively gave testimony in 1515 at Newcastle that 'their father John Langton baker bought and retailed for 30 years lynt, tar, soap with other merchandise.' This statement puts their father John's birth about 1460.
The other famous Langton in Newcastle was a few years earlier, another William who was sheriff in 1404 and mayor between 1408-1411. It is tempting to think he may have been the great grandfather of john Langton senior the baker and perhaps he was. We now need to ask two questions, where did they come from and where did they go. There are two villages which are candidates for the name, Langton in the south of County Durham and Lanton in the north of Northumberland.
There was a Langton family from Langton in Durham (see Durham article) and they did indeed have a William in the family and land at nearby Grindon in Sunderland. However there is another piece of evidence the Newcastle armorial roll. This says that there was an ancient family of Langtons in Northumberland from the village of Langton and this almost certainly refers to Lanton in Northumberland with the obvious family members being the two John Langton bakers and William Langton the goldsmith. They had a golden shield of 3 black eagles between a chevron. But where did they go?
Langtons seem to be almost extinct in Newcastle and Northumberland with a mere handful in the 1881 census. So if you are one of those rare Northumberland Langtons get your DNA sorted and start by reading the DNA project article on here.
Now let's travel to the other end of Northumberland to Berwick and the Scottish border. Let's go 40 miles inland along the River Tweed and we come to the area of Earlshaugh which in turn is about 10 miles north of the inland Scottish village of Lanton. Here we find Colin Langton accused amongst others of trying to kill someone. He is described as a person of some importance and standing. He may well have originated from the village of Lanton to the south but where did his descendants disappear to?
If you are a Scottish Langton rare as you may be, send in your DNA. There are also other candidates for the origin of these few Langtons scattered along the border.
To list them they are as follows:
1) This inland village of Scottish Lanton
2) The Scottish village of Langton now Gavintown near Berwick
3) The Durham Langtons descended from Sir Richard Langton who were burgesses both in Newcastle and Berwick
4) English Lanton in Northumberland where we find Martin of Langeton in 1206. He looks like an ancestor of the bakers and goldsmiths and perhaps Mayor William.
Two Langtons were burgesses of Berwick in the 1290's Alan in 1291 who we know to be a Durham Langton lord of Wynyard, and Nicholas who could have had any of the four origins outlined above.
Nicholas was a burgess when Berwick foolishly sided with the Scots against Edward I along with many others he probably died in March 1296 when the king stormed Berwick.
A few years later a David Langton who had a squirrel shield held the castle and manor of Werk together with controlling the waters of the Tweed, he was dead by 1322 and doesn't seem to have had legitimate male descendants but he could have had nephews.
In 1413 land was being held in Ord near Berwick from Thomas Langton in all probability Thomas Langton of Wynyard. As late as 1536 there was a Langton tenant in Ord working the coal deposits. Did he have any descendants? Where are they now? Are you one of them? Only DNA can sort this one out.
Given the very small numbers of Langtons in Scotland and Northumberland perhaps they didn't have any descendants. In fact we know this is not the only possibility. The Mayor of Hull in Yorkshire in 1485 was Ralph Langton and was in fact from Ord his birthplace. When he died in 1502 he still held land and fishing rights in Norham next door to Ord. Ralph's son was John who died in 1542. So you Langtons sitting in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire think about getting your cheeks swabbed and read the DNA project articles. You lads from Hull might hold the key to everything.