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I began tracing the Croton family history in 1976. I was curious about our unusual family name and it's links with an area of England some 200 miles away from where I was born and brought up. I had been given a family Bible with details relating to baptisms at Cuddington Parish Church, Buckinghamshire. My first letter of enquiry to the vicar at Cuddington brought a positive reply, con firmation of of a baptism entry in the family Bible. In addition to this I was aware of family links with Oxford. I joined the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Family History Societies, and later the Eynsham History Group. These memberships have been invaluable and I have maintained them to this day.

In 1986, with a further update in 1993, I wrote up the family history (As details were known at the time) and copies of the books were given to the above family history societies and individuals in Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A. and England. These relatives were equally enthusiastic about our past and had freely provided information, support and ideas.

Peter Croton at Greenwich, London, alongside a painting of the horologist John Harrison (1693-1776), before his retirement as Headteacher at John Harrison C.E. Primary School, Barrow upon Humber

The name almost certainly originates from the village of Croughton in south Northamptonshire and of Anglo-Saxon derivation. Although this is the present day spelling of the village, there are several documents in the National Archives where it is spelt CROTON. There is evidence to suggest that the current spelling is of relatively recent use and that previous spelling was CROTON or CROWTON, e.g., An article in the Derby Chronicle, dated 20th September 1751 states, The Rev. Dr. Friend, late Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, hath left a legacy of ten pound to the poor of the parish of Witney in Oxfordshire, where he was rector, a legacy to the poor of CROTON in Northamptonshire, and likewise legacies to all his servants.

The origins of the word may simply be a settlement or farmstead where there were crows. The website of Croughton village states, The name Croughton means a farm between two streams. It was an inhabited neighbourhood at least 2000 years ago, the earliest records primaeval man left are the earthworks and the implements and weapons found buried in them. The standard works on surname origins make no reference to the CROTON surname nor its alternatives. The British surnames website, www.britishsurnames.co.uk, also contains no reference to our surname.

The village is located just a few miles from the county boundary with Buckinghamshire where, along with Oxfordshire, the extended family lived for many generations from medieval times into the twentieth century.

The other, most commonly found spelling of the name is CROWTON, today found most frequently in the Greater Birmingham area of England.

The name CROTON is also found in use for orgainic substances and locations elsewhere in the world. The is a decorative plant called CROTON and a poisonous oil. In New York State there is Croton River and the town of Croton on Hudson, additionally Croton dam and viaduct are all well known. Communication with a local historian some years ago did not throw any light upon the origin of its use in north America. There is also a place in southern Italy called Crotone.

The earliest know individual for whom details are known is William Crowton (A Bibliographical Register of the University of Oxford). The positions he held within the Church and University are listed as follows:-

Principal of St. Mary’s Hall, Oriel College 1436-1438
Senior Proctor of the University 1436-1437
Rector of St. Anthony’s, London 1436-1451
Rector of Monk Risborough, Buckinghamshire 1440-1441
Master of St. Mary Magdalen's Hospital College, Ripon, Yorkshire 1441-1445
Canon of Salisbury 1442-death
Canon of Southwell 1445-1446
Canon of Crediton, Devon 1445-1447
Rector of All Cannings, Wiltshire 1447-1472
Rector of Steeple Langford, Wiltshire 1452-death

William Crowton died in 1477, leaving a detailed will, in which he requested to be buried at Salisbury Cathedral. As an important figure within the Roman Catholic Church (It was some fifty years before Henry VIII closed the monasteries, 1536-1539, broke with the Church in Rome and declared himself head of the Church in England.), it is unlikely that William married and had children.   

William lived through an eventful time in England's history. The Wars of the Roses were fought in medieval England from 1455 to 1487 between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. The prime movers in the Wars of the Roses were members of the landed aristoracy, including royal dukes, marquesses and earls, and a greater number of barons, knights and landed gentry. many controlled huge estates and enjoyed political alliances that put at their disposal large numbers of feudal retainers and tenants. The practice of keeping large numbersof paid men-at-arms increased a nobleman's prestige. The Battle of Towton, Yorkshire was the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil with in the the region of 30,000 men were killed. In the final major battle, at Bosworth, Leicestershire in 1485, Richard III, the last English king to lead his men in battle was killed. The victorious Lancastrian, Henry, was the first of the Tudor monarchs.


In subsequent centuries until Victorian times the family were to be found predominantly in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.  They followed occupations mainly, although not solely, associated with agriculture, eg., yeoman, husbandman and labourer, until the second quarter of the nineteenth century. There are several wills from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries that provide a deeper insight into the lives that our ancestors led.

In the hope of a better life, by the middle of the 19th century they had begun to migrate to the major industrial and financial centres of England such as London, Birmingham and Manchester. The more adventurous travelled further afield and settled in the U.S.A., Australia and New Zealand, where their descendants can still be found today. In England, families are now to be found in many parts of the country, often considerable distances from the family origins in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

My thanks go to the following family members for their efforts and information:-

Dr Paul Hanks of Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.

Trina Jones of Wendouree, Victoria, Australia

Yvonne Neundorf of Bli Bli, Queensland, Australia

Barry Croton of Christchurch, New Zealand

Roy Croton of Newbury, Berkshire, England

Don Croton, resident of France

The site continues to be developed and new material will be added as time and availability permits (March 2018).. If you wish to contribute or ask any questions, please use the contact page. You will receive a reply as soon as is possible.


A History of the Croton Family, Peter Croton, 1986, revised 1993

Barrow National School Admission Records 1878 - 1918, Peter Croton, 2012, revised 2013. Now out of print

Growing up in the Great Depression : A Memoir, Don Croton, 2012. Available from Amazon. Note from Peter Croton - This a fantastic read for anyone interested in our family history or social history in the U.S.A. in the 1920s and 30s. Thoroughly recommended!

Swanland Institute Celebrating 100 Years 1914 - 2014, Peter Croton, 2015. Available from the author.

Barrow upon Humber A Village at School, Peter Croton, 2017. Available from the author.