The Irish surname Thornton, also found in England and Scotland is of locative origin, meaning someone who lived by blackthorn bushes. The name Thornton is the anglicized form of the Gaelic surnames Draighneáin ( Blackthorn), Mac Sceacháin (Whitethorn), and Ó Toráin (Thornbush). A family of Thornton’s in county Limerick were 16th Century planters from England. A notable bearer of the name Thornton is the signatory of the US Declaration of Independence, Mathew Thornton, born in Ireland in 1717, his family emigrated to Maine when he was three years old. Mathew Thornton was also first President of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
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