- There are two possible sources of this interesting name, the first being that it is of Scottish origin, and is locational from a place called Whithorn near Wigtown in Scotland. The derivation of the placename is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "hwit", white, with "aern", a house, and refers to a white stone church built by the 5th Century St. Ninian on the site of this place. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually in search of work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. However, Whitehorn may also be a metonymic occupational name for a worker in horn, an important medium in the Middle Ages, used instead of glass, with the second element, "horn", deriving from the Olde English "horn", and the second element, "hwit", used in the sense of fair or splendid. The surname was first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Thomas Whithorn, in the 1327, Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, and Guilielmus Whitehorn, recorded on April 2nd 1648, at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London. The Whitehorn Coat of Arms is described thus: "Per chevron flory silver and black in chief two towers, and in base an escallop all counterchanged, the Crest being five spears black headed gold, one in pale and four in saltire". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Martin Withorn, which was dated 1275, in the "Hundred Rolls of Suffolk", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.
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