The name Norton is said to have been of Anglo-Norman origin and to have been the anglicised form of the Norman name Norville, meaning “North Town.” It was probably taken by its original bearer from the name of his place of residence and used with the prefix de, meaning “of”. It is found on ancient records in the various forms of Norville, Nortown, Nortone, Nortun, and Norton, of which the last is the most generally accepted form of today.
A more obvious origin is from the basic Early English Nor + tun = North town; compare, Weston, Sutton and Easton, for other names derived from points of the compass.
There are many English towns and villages called Norton or including Norton as part of the name e.g. Norton On Derwent, Midsomer Norton, Chipping Norton etc.
Furthermore, when surnames started, a man from the north side of any settlement might be given the name Tom Norton to distinguish him from say a Tom from the south side, Tom Sutton.
Specifically, Norton was the old north town of the East Riding of Yorkshire, when the Ridings were made up of East, West and North Ridings. In the 1970’s there were major reforms of local government across the UK. Some of the changes were unpopular, and controversially, the Ridings lost their status in 1974.
If Norton is the north town of the old East Riding, where is Sutton within the East Riding, or the south town?
The Sutton hamlet is actually encompassed within Norton today, Sutton Grange, Sutton Cottage and Sutton Farm make up the southern fringes of the town around and between Langton Road and Beverley Road and started life as a hamlet, as did the hamlet of Welham, in and around the golf course and Welham Road areas. Welham means, by the spring or river.
The renaming of Norton to Norton On Derwent took place in 1974, at the time of the local government reorganisation. This renaming took place to avoid confusion with many other places named Norton.
On Derwent, means on or upon the River Derwent, with the settlement of Norton On Derwent occupying the south bank of the river. We will save further comment for a separate article dedicated to the River Derwent.