Select Hawthorne Surname Genealogy

The Hawthorne surname in olden times denoted someone who lived by a bush or hedge of hawthorn.  The Old English word was haegborn or hagethorn and meant “thorn used for making hedges and enclosures.”  The main surname spelling variants today are Hawthorne and Hawthorn, with Hathorne and Hathorn less in use now.

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Select Hawthorne Ancestry

England.  The first evidence of the Hawthorne name in England was the village of Hagethorn (now called Hawthorn) in the parish of Easington in Durham in which, according to priory records, William de Hagethorn was living in 1155.  Whether there was succession from him is not known, although there have been some suggestions that the Scottish Hawthornes may have come from Durham.

The Hawthorn place-name was also found in Staffordshire.  One family line began with the marriage of William Hawthorne and Elizabeth Hemming there in 1682.  The county had about 20% of the English Hawthorns and Hawthornes in the 1881 census. 

Hawthornes at Bray in Berkshire date back to the mid-1400’s.  However, this line was later much more important for America than for England.  Some oral history of these Hawthornes survived in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story An Old Woman’s Tale.  Hawthorns in nearby Sunninghill have been traced to the early 1800’s.

Hawthorn in Scotland is an old Galloway name of SW Scotland.  The name first appeared in Kirkinner parish records in 1455.  They were in later years proprietors of Meikle Aires in that parish.  Some of them crossed to Ireland at the time of the Ulster plantation, such as Elizabeth Hawthorn of Meikle Aires who arrived in Derry in 1690. 

Hawthorns in the 19th century included some Scots Irish such as Steel Hawthorn, who came to work in the coal mines in Lanarkshire in the 1820’s, and William Hawthorn, recorded as a cotton weaver in Ayr in the 1850’s.

Early sightings of the Hawthorne name in Ireland were sparse, although they were clearly there because of the Hawthorne migrations to America in the 18th century.  Some Scots Irish Hawthorns recorded at that time in Ulster were:
  • William Hawthorn who was born at Annaghmore in Derry in 1718.
  • Archibald Hawthorn of Legananny who died at Aghderg in Down in 1749.
  • and James Hawthorn who was recorded at Islandmagee in Antrim in 1772.
The Rev. Samuel Hawthorne was the Presbyterian minister at Kircubbinin county Down from 1869 to 1912.  From his family came William Hawthorne, an electrical engineer who moved to England in the early 1900’s; and his son William, born in Newcastle, who was knighted for his work on the development of the jet engine.

The 1890 census revealed 27 Hawthorne families in Ireland, of whom 23 were to be found in Antrim, Down and Armagh

America.  The Hathornes of Bray in Berkshire contributed two Hathorne lines, one in Massachusetts and the other in the South.

.  William Hathorne came to New England with Governor Winthrop on the Arbella in 1630, moving to Salem six years later.  He was prominent in the defense of the town against Indians.  He also prospered, as did his son John, as a merchant.  However, there was a darker side to both of these men:
  • William Hathorne was a bitter persecutor of Quakers, remembered in particular for the whipping of Ann Coleman in 1662.
  • while John Hathorne was the presiding judge in the Salem witch trials of 1692, from whence is supposed to have come the Hathorne curse.
John Hathorne was the great great grandfather of the writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, born in Salem in 1804, who was thought to have added the “w” to his name just to distance himself from his ancestors.

A younger John of this family had moved from Salem to Lynn around the year 1650.  He was not like the other early Hathorne men.  He was not on the bench or running the affairs of a pious Puritan colony.  He ran taverns instead and there were many reports of drunkenness in his house.  A descendant was General John Hathorn who fought in the Revolutionary War.  His home at Warwick in upstate New York, built in 1773, still stands.

The family story through seven generations was narrated in Vernon Loggins’ 1951 book The Hawthornes.

.  John Hawthorne came to Surry county, Virginia from Bray in Berkshire around the year 1700.  His descendants later moved to Robeson county, North Carolina.  The main lines from there went:
  • from Elder William Hawthorn, a Baptist minister, who in the 1820's was among the first men to settle in what is now Grady county in SW Georgia. 
  • from Kedar Hawthorne to the Rev. Kedar Hawthorne who moved to Conecuh county, Alabama around 1820 and converted there to the Baptist faith.  His brothers Nathaniel and Dennis were also Baptist ministers and his son James B. Hawthorne, a pastor in Atlanta and Nashville, was a strong preacher in the Southern Baptist tradition.
  • from Joshua Hawthorne to Joseph Richard Hawthorne who was a wealthy landowner and planter first in Conecuh and then in Wilcox county, Alabama.  His Hawthorne House at Pine Apple, built in 1854, is a historic plantation house.
Irish.  Some other Hawthornes were from Ireland.  Adam Hawthorn left county Monaghan as part of a Presbyterian exodus for Charleston, South Carolina in 1767.   He settled in what is now Winnsboro, Fairfield county.

Then Samuel Hawthorne, thought to have been from somewhere in Ireland, came to Mercer county, Pennsylvania in the 1770’s.  His grandsons James (J.C.) and William were both adventurous men:
  • J.C. Hawthorne studied medicine which he first practiced when he arrived in California in 1850.  Seven years later he moved to Oregon where he established a county hospital in Portland.  He was considered a pioneer in treating mental illness there.
  • while his cousin William Hawthorne arrived in California in 1856, having taken the longer route via the isthmus.  He too moved on, in this case to Nevada in 1860 where he prospered and became a judge.
Samuel Baskin Hathorn, born in Ireland (possibly Cork), immigrated first to South Carolina, and then to Georgia, and finally settled in Covington county, Mississippi around 1818.  He was probably responsible for the large number of Hathorns found in Mississippi.  He and his son Nevin were both slave-owners.

Another possibly related Hathorn family had its origin in Nick Hathorn, who was born in South Carolina and came to Covington county around 1825.  His son Daniel Hathorn was friends with the Wild Bill Sullivan of the Mississippi backwoods.  The Hathorn name also cropped up in nearby Jefferson Davis county. 

The Federal census of 1860 had no fewer than 60 slaves named Hathorn recorded in the state.  Pauline Hathorn, who grew up on the Paradise cotton plantation in Dover during the Great Depression, charted her remarkable life’s journey from that lowly position in her 2009 book Escape from Paradise

  James and Eliza Hawthorne left Derry for Ontario in 1848, eventually settling in Morris township in Huron county.  Many of their descendants later migrated west, to Manitoba and Saskatchewan.  Meanwhile Robert Hawthorne left Antrim for Ontario in the same year of 1848 and settled in Ross township in Renfrew county with his second wife Ann.  All these pioneer settlers lived to a grand old age – James to ninety, Eliza to ninety two, Robert to eighty five, and Ann to ninety two.

Australia and New Zealand.
  The Hawthornes shown here also had Irish origins.  James Hawthorne departed Belfast in 1840 at the age of seventeen and arrived in Sydney late that year on the Royal Consort.   He married and settled down there.  Alfred Hawthorne was born in London, although his father had come there from Ireland.  He was in New Zealand by the early 1870’s where he eventually made his home in Birmingham

Select Hawthorne Miscellany

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

Select Hawthorne Names

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a 19th century American novelist and short story writer.
Michael Hawthorn
 was the British racing driver who became the UK’s first F1 World Racing Champion in 1958.
Nigel Hawthorne
was a British actor best known for his scheming civil servant Sir Humphrey in the TV series Yes Minister
Select Hawthornes Today
  • 6,000 in the UK (most numerous in Northern Ireland)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

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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