Dufton place of Doves

So where did it all start, from where did we get the name Dufton?

Dufton name

The family name Dufton is eponymous and derives from the village of Dufton which is situated in the Eden valley of the old English county of Westmorland. The village has its origins during the seventh century when the western borders of the Anglican Kingdom of Northumbria expanded over the Pennine fells and moors, and Angle farming families settled in small clusters along the fellside. These were the 'Westmoringas', the people west of the moors, the first Westmorlanders. These settlements all took their names from features of the landscape, and all ended in -tun, the old English word for homestead or farm. Among these villages were Hilton, Brampton, Murton and Dufton. The village of Dufton is so called from the old English words dufe meaning dove and tun meaning settlement.
Hence, Dufetun the place of doves.

old map showing Dufton village   Dufton sign

Early map showing Dufton village


Some of the Angle 'ton' villages near Appleby

The first record of the name Dufton appears on the Westmorland Pipe Rolls of 1176, these rolls detail the accounts for the district of Appleby.
Robert de Dufton has been ordered to pay forty shillings by the court, he had already paid 20 shillings to the exchequer and now owed only 20 shillings. It appears that Robert and others were required by the king's court to explain why so little resistance had been made to prevent William the Lion, the King of Scotland, capturing the nearby castle at Appleby in 1174. In fact this first mention of the name was incorrectly recorded by historians as Duston. Over the following years the name Dufton was written in various ways, medieval records list Duffton, Duffeton, Dofeton and Doufton. After the introduction of the keeping of parish records in 1538 Dufton appears to be the accepted spelling.

Robert de Dufton recorded on the pipe roll of 1176.
This is the earliest record of the name Dufton......found so far.

However, around the year 1120 Simoen of Durham recorded the village of Dufton as one of the resting locations of St Cuthbert's coffin.
Westmorerlandia : Ecclesial de Cleburne, et de Dufton juxta Appleby
ref..1 MS. De Orig. Ord. Monach. foL 30. OP. 162.

The next mention of the family name Dufton is in 1199 with the recording of Robert de Dufton being summoned for court service. It would appear that Robert's family had lived at the manor of Dufton for several generations, his descendants were to remain at Dufton for several centuries more. It is known that John de Dufton, one of Robert's sons, held in capite the barony of Dufton, which included the manors of Dufton, Knock, Keisley, Brampton, Bolton and Yanworth.

The names of John de Dufton and his son Robert appear on the Appleby assizes of 1279.

Early records indicate that there were only a few areas where Duftons had settled. These were in the villages around Penrith in the counties of their origin Westmorland and Cumberland, with an overspill during the Industrial Revolution into county Durham. And, also in Yorkshire around the areas of the textile manufacturing towns of Bradford and Leeds which has been 'home' for the majority of Dufton families.

The name of John Dufton engraved above the door of Dufton farmhouse at Brigham in the old county of Cumberland.

The family name Dufton has no connection with the famous Scottish whiskey distilling village of Dufftown, which was founded in 1817 by James Duff, the Earl of Fife, the village was originally called Balvenie. The earl had the village built to provide employment after the Napoleonic wars for returning soldiers. However, the village was always referred to as James Duff Town, pronounced Dufton, and the name stuck. It is said that 'Rome was built on seven hills, and Dufftown stands on seven stills'. However, by coincidence a branch of of the Dufton family have been living in the nearby village of Forgue since about 1650. The earliest record is the marriage of James Dufton (Dufftoune) to Janet Smith on the 18 March 1677 at nearby Marnoch. It would appear that James had two brothers, Gavine and John who were also living in Forgue. Over the centuries the name has gradually changed to Duffton. It appears that the Forgue Duftons came from Cumberland around this time to work on the estate of Frendraught House which had earlier been destroyed by fire. It seems possible that James, Gavine and John's father was the first Dufton that settled in Forgue from Cumberland.

Marriage record of James Dufftoune and Janet Smith in 1677

The grave at Heskett in the Forest of John Duffton of Low Braithwaite who died 1777.

Various older manuscripts mistakenly record the Gloustershire village of Doughton as Dufton. The implication is that at one time the name Doughton was pronounced Dufton. The village of Doughton is the location of Highgrove the home of Charles, the Prince of Wales.

Dufton name at Heltondale
The names of Thomas and Ann Dufton above the door of their farmhouse at Heltondale in Westmorland..
But...why is the letter D written backwards?

The final area where significant numbers of the Dufton family have been recorded is on the island of St Helena. In 1673 a William Dufton set sail for the island, he settled there and his descendants remained for centuries, during which time their name gradually changed to Doveton. Records indicate that William was the son of Henry Dufton, a stonemason, and his wife Deborah (Langscaree) who lived in the town of Richmond in North Yorkshire.

Doveton family crest
Doveton family crest.

So, is it .....Dufton, Duffton or Doveton?
At a time when many were unable to read or write the different spelling of their name depended on how the parish clerk heard the name and how he chose to enter it into the parish records.
Thomas Dufton appears in the Haydon Bridge parish registers as Thomas Dufton, then Thomas Duffton and finally Thomas Doveton.

This statue on the dockside at Liverpool commemorates the millions of people that sailed from here to settle in the USA and other far-away places. Among these settlers were many Dufton families that took the name Dufton to these distant lands.

So to an intriguing question that is often asked by those who have an interest in their family name.
We know the meaning of the family name and where it came from, but is it possible to establish who was the first person to have that name?
So do we know who was the first Dufton?.........We think possibly we do.

Emily and Jess Dufton at Dufton

And finally.....
George Bernard Shaw warns that when looking into your family tree beware.
You never know who may be living in the branches, or even hanging from one.

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