Marcine's Genealogy


Thornton:  Is pronounced THORN-ten. It is of Old English origin, and its meaning is "thorn-bush settlement". Place name used as a given name since the 19th century. The Thorntons were originally fair-haired Norwegian Vikings. The Norse spelled Thornton as Thurston. William, The Conqueror, from Normandy, was the great-grandson of Rolla and he was crowned King of England in 1066. (1)

Drennan, Dreinan, Drinane, Drinan and also Meenagh and Meenaghan were interchangeable with Thornton in counties Galway and Mayo, where today Thorntons are numerous.(2)

(1) Source Unknown.
(2) - Surname Search Thornton (No longer a working website)

Thomas Thornton, the father of John Thornton of my ancestry, has been a mystery for years. Unable to locate any information further back in North Carolina prior to 1747 to indicate parentage, I began searching in Virginia for any Thomas who matches him that could have relocated to North Carolina with no luck.

The latest revelation has come from the Thornton DNA project which indicates we are not related to anyone tested thus far in Virginia or elsewhere for some 30,000 years. Since the William Thornton, the immigrant, Luke Thornton, and Mark Thornton lines are all participants in the Virginia DNA, this excludes them as being closely related to my line according to Chuck Thornton who runs the project. We are Group B (Virginia-B) R1b1a2) and don't match with anyone else as of this writing. This leads me to believe that Thomas is the immigrating ancestor. Further DNA testing through 23&Me have indicated that I have ancestors in Counties Cork and Kerry in Ireland (the southern tip of the island) - this has to be the Thornton's as I've got everyone else traced back to England, Germany, or Norway. I also found that Thornton is the anglicized version of Meeneghan which is spelled several different ways. This could make the research harder as we go further back.1

As to Thomas Sr's wife, her name is Martha but the only document that indicates so is the bible record of John Thornton indicating his parents are Thomas and Martha Thornton. No proof has been found to confirm her maiden name although Hampton and Newby have been suggested. This is NOT the Thomas Thornton who married Martha Boykin as he died 20 Apr 1762 in Periquimans County whereas this Thomas' estate was filed on July 16, 1777, in Duplin County, North Carolina [File Number CR 035.508.89 at the State Archives] and he is clearly alive in 1772 when he deeded land to his son John.2

And to everyone who is listing Martha with a middle initial P, please remove it. I discovered the problem. My late aunt had handwritten Martha ? on her informational sheet that she sent out regularly and everyone thought it was a P which it is not.3

It also appears that my Thomas first shows up in 1747 in Johnston County shortly after it was divided from New Hanover County. Other researcher's have remembered stories that this Thornton line called themselves Scots-Irish - another hint towards Ireland.4

  1. FamilyTreeDNA - Thornton Surname Project Group B (Virginia-B) R1b1a2, Kit 15855 Thomas Thornton II Lineage; Kit 11565 Herod Thornton Lineage; Kit 115412 Herod Thornton Lineage; Kit 15595 Herod Thornton Lineage; Kit 65981 John Thornton Lineage; Kit 181236 possibly John Thornton Lineage.
  2. John Thornton Family Bible (LDS Records (Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints), Microfiche No. 6125929), LDS Records (Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints), Microfiche No. 6125929 (Old Thornton Bible Record). John Thornton born 31 Aug 1749 to Thomas & Martha Thornton. Married to Agnes Hill whose parents are Francis & Elizabeth Hill.
  3. Wiles, Alma (Littrell), deceased, Various research notes, hand written family group sheets, and records currently in the possession of her niece, Marcine E. Lohman.
  4. Johnston County, North Carolina Deed Book 1, Page 91. Mark Phillips to Thomas Thornton Dated: June 25 & 26, 1747. Johnston County, NC - Quit Rent - 1750, (Original on file at the North Carolina Archives, Raleigh, NC), Date of Patent: June 25 & 26. Thomas Thornton, patentee; 200 acres; part of a patent of 40 in sd House of Mark Philips, Dated Oct 9th, 1747, part of sd upper survey 24 1/2 at 4£, 1:-:-

Useful Sites





Thornton Coat of Arms
Thornton Coat of Arms