Select Middleton Surname Genealogy

The surname Middleton originates from the place-name of which there are over thirty instance of the name, at various locations in England.  Middleton village and Middleton manor in north Warwickshire were recorded in the Domesday Book.  The name also cropped up in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Shropshire, and Sussex.  The root is the Old English midel meaning "middle" and tun "farm" or "settlement."

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England.  William de Middleton was a medieval Bishop of Norwich who lived in the 13th century. 

Shropshire.  Myddeltons have been in Shropshire since the 14th century when the son of Rhirid ap Dafydd of Myddelton became known as Philip Myddelton.  Sir Thomas Myddelton, a Welsh merchant whose family had adopted this Myddelton name, acquired Chirk castle in 1595.  His family has continued to live there to the present day.

Yorkshire.  The name Midelton cropped up in Yorkshire in 1273 and, later on, the Middleton name was to be found in Yorkshire and the West Midlands mainly.  There was a Middleton family in Ilkley in Yorkshire in medieval times. They were a landowning family who lost out in the 16th and 17th century because of their Catholic faith. Their plight was discussed in The Middleton Papers, series 161 of the Yorkshire Archaelogical Society.

Kate Middleton's paternal ancestors were Leeds solicitors from Yorkshire in the 19th century.  Her grandfather Noel married Olive Lupton from a well-to-do Leeds family.  Her parents Michael and Carole met when they were both working for British Airways.

Scotland.  The Midilton name was recorded in Arbroath in 1221.  A Scottish Middleton family derived their name from lands at Middletoun near Kincardine in NE Scotland which they had held from the 12th century.

Its best known member was probably John Middleton who started out as a pikeman in a Scottish regiment in France.  He rose to become the first Earl of Middleton and command the Scottish army for the King in 1648 and for Charles II following the Restoration.   His son Charles was a close advisor to James II and followed him into exile in 1688.

Wales.  The Myddelton name came to Wales when a Welsh family of Denbighshire married into the Myddeltons of Shropshire and adopted their name.  Richard Myddelton was governor of Denbigh castle during Tudor times. 

His sons Thomas and Hugh set off to London to seek their fortune.  Thomas became one of the original shareholders of the East India Company and Hugh Myddelton a goldsmith, such a successful one that he was appointed Royal Jeweller to James I.

.  The main Middleton presence in America has been in South Carolina.

South Carolina.  In 1678 Edward Middleton and his brother Arthur moved from Barbados to Charleston, South Carolina to start a plantation there.  Edward's son Arthur, born there three years later, became a well-established member of the Carolina gentry.  Arthur Middleton was a wealthy plantation owner on land along the Ashley river, owning over 5,000 acres and employing more than a hundred slaves.  A later Arthur was a signer of the Declaration of Independence for South Carolina. 

The family position in South Carolina remained until the time of the Civil War.  Descendants spread across South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and New Jersey and included the actor Charles Middleton who played Ming the Merciless in the Flash Gordon movies of the 1930's.

Elsewhere.  The Scottish physician Peter Middleton practiced in New York City after 1752 and was one of the founders of the medical school at King's College (now Columbia University) in 1767.  He sided with the British during the Revolutionary War. 

James Middleton, the son of John and Susan Middleton, grew up in Delaware and fought in the Revolutionary War.  Afterwards he made his home at Broad Creek in Sussex county.  Descendants migrated to Ohio and Indiana.  The family line was covered in Hazel Middleton Kendall's 1932 book Middleton-Downing Family History.

Canada.  One Middleton family in Canada began with Ezekiel and Elizabeth Middleton from Vermont who crossed the border into Leeds county, Ontario in 1800. 

Meanwhile Charles and Elizabeth Middleton, newly married, came to Toronto from Kent in 1834.  After they had been in Toronto a year, Charles walked out alone into the wilderness and purchased 80 acres to farm in the Huron tract. He then returned and brought his young wife and family out to his new homestead.  The early years were tough.  But befriending the local Chippewa Indians turned out to be a good strategy. 

Australia.  Joseph Middleton, a laborer from Northamptonshire, was on board the Buffalo which took the first English colonists to South Australia in 1836.  Ian Hutchinson’s 2012 book Middleton Memoirs - A History of the Family of Joseph and Elizabeth Middleton recounted this family’s history.

Select Middleton Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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Thomas Middleton was an English Jacobean playwright and poet.
Arthur Middleton of Charleston, South Carolina was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Charles Middleton, born in Leith in Scotland, joined the navy and rose to be First Lord of the Admiralty in 1805.
Kate Middleton married Prince William the future king in Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011.

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  • 31,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 14,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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