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The "English" history items were borrowed from other Houghton Family Sites and features a Houghton  History in England and references our Ancient Norman Heritage. The specific line stated in the English History may very well be our own roots leading to our "Houghton" introduction to the new colonies via Ralph Houghton or his cousin John Houghton.  This is not yet verified. However, it appears we may be from Ralph. It makes interested reading. Perhaps it will enlighten you on your family heritage.



Hoghton is an old way of spelling Houghton. Thomas Hoghton, owner of Hoghton Tower (b. 1540 England) is John Houghton the immigrant’s (b. 1624) Great Grandfather. Many people believe that it is Ralph who was related to the Thomas who lived there. I believe that too. They say that John and Ralph were distant cousins. Wouldn’t it then make them 3rd cousins? Also, John’s Grandparents are related by blood. They are Thomas Houghton and Catharine Houghton (maiden name) That makes it more complicated. In a nut shell, it both doubles the chances that John and Ralph are cousins and makes it harder to figure out how. They later sailed together to Lancaster Mass. on the Ship Abigail.  

Surnames were not used until about 800 yrs ago, and then they were used only by the French. Usually the surname told where you were from as for example, Henricus de Archy, meaning Henry of Archy. Later the de was dropped from the surname and the place it represented slowly change in spelling to the different name forms we have today.  

Name Origin (AD 512 Norman):

The Houghton family is an old one of Norman descent, with a Saxon/Norman history dating from 1065. That is when documents show that the earliest Houghton came to England on the same ship with William the Conqueror.  

The Houghton's can trace their linage back to one common ancestor named Herverus. He was a Norman French who accompanied the armies of William the Conqueror when the Norman's invaded England in the year 1066. After the battle when the Normans ruled England, he acquired several tracts of land in Suffolk, Norfolk and Lancashire. His grandson, Hamo, married Maude, the lovely daughter of Richard Bussel, second baron of Penwortham. He received in the marriage the Manor of Holton This is a majestic old manor located in Lancashire on top of a conspicuously high hill over looking a somewhat flat valley. Harno's son took the name William De Hocton, where Hocton is the Anglo-Saxon word for 'high town" or "high place", after the manor where the family lived. This was in the year 1140. All Houghton's today can trace themselves back to William De Hocton.

About 1200, William's grandson changed the spelling from De Hocton to De Hoghton, his name being Adam De Hoghton. It wasn't until the year 1458 that the De was omitted from the name. This was done by Sir Henry or his son, Sir William Hoghton. The name remained unchanged by this family until in seventeenth century. Two cousins, Ralph and John, from the Hoghton family branch came to America about 1647 - 1650. It is reported that after entering this country, Ralph changed the spelling by adding the "U" to Hoghton making it Houghton, as is the spelling today.  

Name Pronunciation dispute:

example: As told by Dave Reedy, a family genealogist, of Joseph Houghton of Texas Houghton's.
How to pronounce Houghton correctly is another story. Even in this family both pronunciations of the name exist. Some descendants pronounce it Ho-ton, with a long "O", and descendants of Frank Houghton pronounce it How-ton, with a short "O". It was told to me that Joseph Houghton said before his death in 1906 that the name was pronounced, Ho-ton, like the Houghton's of Michigan. Well, if we go back to the colonial Houghton's, we find that the Massachusetts Houghton's pronounced the name Ho-ton, while the New York Houghton's pronounced it How-ton. Since your Houghton branch came from Vermont, through Joseph Houghton, and the Vermont Houghton's are made up of both Massachusetts and New York Houghton's, I guess we will never know. What a way to settle an old dispute! To be truthful, though, the correct Anglo-Saxon pronunciation of the name would be Ho-ton, with a long "O". (Sorry Frank!)  

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Coat of Arms

The Houghton coat of arms is the oldest Cheshire coat of arms and the second oldest in England.  When an English noble designed a crest for his family, it contained symbols that had characteristics belonging to him or his family. It would remain like a family surname. His sons would keep the same basic crest but would alter it a little so theirs would be unique to them also. So the crest was always changing a little as it passed through time. Eventually, after several generations of change, the new crest might have no resemblance to the original. This is true for most families.  This is an earlier version found in a Houghton book in 1912 published by  Dr. John Houghton. There are several variations in the book.  Also, Burke's Armory, is a very large, old reference book of heraldry used by most genealogist.  

Motto "Malgre le tort" (Despite the Wrong)
Shield - silver and black 'argent'.
Mantle -  ' burgundy and gold'.
Helmet - 'closed passive'.
Crest - 'bull'.

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English History 
Houghton Catholics:

In the 1500s, the Catholic Houghton's of Lancashire England were underground supporters of Catholicism. These were the days when the Catholic Faith was outlawed. There were many Catholic's including Houghton's tortured and hanged for being Catholics.  Apparently some were Protestants and fled to The US and Canada.  For whatever reason, John & Cousin Ralph were part of those escaping to America. It is widely held that it wasn't the religion that was the problem, it appears that their family was Royalist and was escaping from the dominant Parliamentarian's.  It also appears that some of the family had become supporters of the Parliamentarian Movement.  However, it could have been religious freedoms they were searching for since both John and Ralph became protestants after arriving in Mass.

Houghton Politics:

When Protestant vs Catholic ended  --  Royalist vs Parliamentarian began.  By this time our American roots were already planted. However, this indicates how our family was involved with British politics and may give some insight into why they left the homeland for America.

.......Sir Gilbert Houghton  -  Back in Lancaster (taken from Regimental Newsletters )  

At age 51 in 1642, Sir Gilbert Houghton, as a army officer and a Lancashire Royalists, living in The Houghton Tower, was just beginning his conflict as the Lancashire Civil war began.  Sir Gilbert was famous for not only marching with the troops assigned to him, but with clubman, trained bands, and his own tenants! That is why the uniforms they wore was never confirmed. Some say they wore all black, red coats, regular clothes or white and yellow, which were the Houghton colors. Maybe a little of each.

Gilbert and his royalist regiment seized Manchester, yet it still remain Parliamentarian. Near the end of November 1642 Sir Gilbert led the first skirmishes in the Blackburn area. In order to raise his troops from the Fylde a beacon was flared at the top of Hoghton Tower and having gathered his troops he marched against Whalley, where there was a large store of arms as a result of the disarming of Roman Catholics in 1641. Whalley fell without a struggle and then his forces moved onto Blackburn. Hearing of Hoghton's activities Colonels Shuttleworth and Starkie (the name that has plagued Houghton's down the centuries) raised a force of 8,000 men and attacked Sir Gilbert's force by night. After a hard fought defense, Sir Gilbert Houghton and his men fled leaving behind all their arms.

Having lost Blackburn , Sir Gilbert Houghton had no other choice but to retake it because of the fact that Blackburn was so close to Houghton Tower, his home. He brought his force, on Christmas Eve, to the outskirts of Blackburn. Probably feeling uncertain of his men after their last defeat Sir Gilbert failed to close on the Blackburn garrison and the one small canon that they possessed did no damage. At nightfall they retreated so that "they myght eet theyr Chrystmas pyes at home" as the records have it. The only damage that Blackburn sustained was when a bullet entered a house and shot out the bottom of a frying pan. Thus Sir Gilberts only campaign ended somewhat ignominiously, but worse was to follow.

Preston, near Lancaster was the center of the Royalist cause. This was where Sir Gilbert Houghton and his family were staying. In February 1642-3 the Manchester garrison led by Sir John Seaton and the force commanded by Col. Shuttleworth attacked. After two hours of hard fighting the defense collapsed. Sir Gilbert managed to escape to Wigan but his wife, Margaret, was captured and his brother, Radcliffe, who had command of the Preston garrison along with Capt. Farrington, was killed.  

Following the capture of Preston an expeditionary force under the command of none other but Starkie was sent out to take Hoghton Tower. Seeing that the odds were against them the garrison at Houghton Tower Surrendered. As Starkie was sieging the tower an accidental explosion of gunpowder destroyed an inner tower and killed Starkie, whose ghost haunts Houghton Tower to this day, and 60 of his troopers.  

The last act of Sir Gilbert in the Civil War was at Chester in October 1643. He had been sent there to await the arrival of the King's Irish army. With this force he was probably engaged, with Lord Byron, in the surprise attack on Col. Ashton's. Of his other two sons involved in the war, Gilbert was a Captain in a company of Col. Gerard's regiment and later became the governor of Worcester and Henry was a Captain of Horse under Derby.

Unfortunately Sir Gilbert does not appear to have been on very good terms with Byron and after a quarrel he appears not to have taken any further part. His unwillingness to continue the fight was probably also compounded by the loss of his son, Roger, at Hessam Moor in 1643 as well as by the fact that his eldest son and heir, Richard, was fighting on the side of Parliament.

Sir Gilbert Hoghton died in 1647. The Baronetcy was inherited by his son Sir Richard, who was unlike his father, a Parliamentarian.

In the late 1960's about twenty shoe boxes of documents were deposited in the County Records from Downham Hall. In the boxes were muster rolls, color details, regimental order books etc. making it possibly the best recorded regiment. The documents were seen and then sent to London but soon after were lost.  

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Houghton's Were:


The Sovereign Military and Hospitallier.


Order of St John of Jerusalem. (The Holy Crusades).


Conferred and Sealed by The Holy See, Grand Majistry of Rome.


County Seat - Houghton Hall. Leicester, Leicestershire, England.


Houghton Dignitaries - Knight Templar, Archbishop and Sheriff.


Royalists under Cromwell, Family fled to Massachusetts in 1613.

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Houghton Tower

Ancestral Home of the Houghton Family  
(Seat of Sir Bernard de Hoghton Bt. One of the Stately Homes of England.)

Ancestral home of the Hoghton family since William the Conqueror. See the magnificent Banqueting Hall where the ‘Loin of Beef’ ‘Sirloin’ was knighted by King James I in 1617, and where William Shakespeare started his working life. The King’s Bedchamber, Audience Chamber, Ballroom and other staterooms used by the King, the Duke of Buckingham and other nobles in his suite, still perfectly preserved. Visit the Tudor Well House with its horse-drawn pump and oaken windlass, the underground passages with The Lancashire Witches, dungeons, wine cellar and the stone cells which housed malefactors and cattle thieves of bygone days.

King James I Arriving in 1617

 Ancestral home of the de Hoghton family since the Norman conquest, Hoghton Tower, a fortified hilltop Manor House is one of the most dramatic looking houses in the North of England. There have been three houses on the site

The present home was built almost entirely in the Tudor Elizabethan period (1560-1565) and is reached by a steep, straight avenue of over half a mile long.

Built in the 1720's by Britain's first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall is one of the grandest surviving Palladian houses in England. At Houghton, Walpole created a magnificent showcase for the finest architects, craftsmen and painters of an elegant age. The work of architects James Gibbs and Colen Campbell was complemented by the superb interiors of William Kent and opulently furnished to reflect Walpole's status. Now lovingly restored to its former grandeur by the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton retains many of its original furnishings, allowing visitors the opportunity to step back in time and enjoy Houghton much as it may have been in Walpole's day.  

Current Buildings

The Great Hall

The Famous Banqueting Hall

Aerial View of Grounds

Houghton is set in over 250 acres (142 ha) of fine parkland, home to over 1,000 head of white fallow deer.



More Gardens

Map of Area

The unique Cholmondeley Soldier Museum features over 20,000 model soldiers and is one of the most important in the world. It is an interesting and diverse collection with spectacular Napoleonic battle scenes commissioned by the late 6th Marques, and a selection of individual models, ranging from large china figures to tiny lead replicas.

Houghton is set in over 250 acres (142 ha) of fine parkland, home to over 1,000 head of white fallow deer. Visitors are able to wander at leisure through the rolling parkland to the church and stable black. The original walled garden has been recreated to feature an area devoted to fruit and vegetables, a herbaceous border and a formal rose-garden with over 150 varieties.

Location: Houghton is situated just off the A148 King's Lynn to Cromer road, close to the North Norfolk Coast, Norwich and Norfolk Broads. The location of this beautiful historic house is perfectly suited to existing transport facilities. It is specifically located on the A675 - six miles east of Preston. Road: M6 (Junction 28 or 29) M6 1 (Junction 8) M65 (Junction 3)

HOUGHTON TOWER is now available on an exclusive basis for corporate business entertaining and meetings.

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