The Etymology of the Name Colton

Apparently there are records of this place being called Colastun in Anglo-Saxon times, which had changed by the Medieval period to Coltune or Coltone and it seems likely that the Cola element of the original place-name is a personal name. Tun is Old English for 'farmstead', so this was 'Cola's farmstead'. (Mills, p.92; Poulton-Smith, p.36)

Prehistoric Colastun (c.10,000B.C. - A.D.1066)

There is no evidence for any prehistoric or Roman activity in the neighbourhood of Colton, and, although the size of the settlement recorded in Domesday was substantial there are no physical remains of the original village, mainly due to the fact that, unlike the Romans who built in stone and tile, the Anglo-Saxons were in the habit of building houses primarily of wood and thatch, which does not often leave much in the way of observeable archaeology.

Domesday Coltone (A.D.1086)

There are two major landholders recorded in the Coltone of Domesday, Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel and Shrewsbury, owned three-fifths of the vill while Robert de Stafford, second son of Ralph de Tosny III, held lordship over the other two-fifths.

"[Land of Earl Roger ... in Pirehill Hundred ...] COLTONE (Colton). Ascelin holds it from him. 1 hide. Land for 4 ploughs. Almund held it; he was free. In lordship 2 ploughs; 4 slaves. 14 villagers with a priest have 3 ploughs. Meadow, 19 acres; woodland 1 league long and ½ wide. Value 40s. In COLT there is ½ hide which belongs to Coltone. Aelmer held it." (The Domesday Book, 1086, 8.15-16)

Roger's holding in Colton, amounting to 480 acres, was formerly the property of the Saxon ceorl (pronounced 'churl') Almund, but was sub-let by the Earl to a man named Ascelin. The lord of the manor farmed half of the available land through the agency of four 'slaves' or indentured men, while the other half was worked by fourteen villagers or 'villeins' who all owned their own plots of land and had enough oxen to farm half as much land again. Roger's holdings in the vill included 19 acres of meadowland, which was quite substantial in comparison with other Domesday villages in Staffordshire, and an expanse of woodland measuring 1½ miles by ¾-mile or 720 acres. The entry also mentions a priest in the village, which is circumstantial evidence for the existence of a Saxon church or chapel.

There was a satellite hamlet of Coltune named Colt which has not been identified but is thought to lie to the immediate north of the village, perhaps beneath the modern hamlet of Stockwell Heath; this issue is dealt with on a separate page within the CCH website.

"[Land of Robert of Stafford ... in Pirehill Hundred ...] in COLTUNE (Colton). 1 hide. Geoffrey holds from him. Oda and Wulfric held it; they were free. Land for 6 ploughs. In lordship 1; 10 villagers and 1 slave with 3 ploughs. A mill at 12d; meadow, 16 acres; woodland 1 league long and 3 furlongs wide. value 50s." (The Domesday Book, 1086, 11.29)

The second Domesday entry for Coltune deals with the holdings of Robert de Stafford, formerly the property of the Saxon ceorls Oda and Wulfric, and again, the lordship of the manor was sub-let to a Norman lordling named Geoffrey [de Coltune?]. There was 720 acres of land cleared for cultivation in the vill, 120 acres of which was farmed by the lord of the manor with one slave, the rest by ten 'villeins' or land-owning peasants; the village could only muster enough plough-teams of oxen to farm half of the available arable land. Robert's holdings in the village included a water-mill, sixteen acres of meadowland and 540 acres of woodland (given that a Domesday 'league' amounted to 1½ miles and there are 8 furlongs to a mile).

Click here for more information on The Domesday Book in general

Medieval Colton (A.D.1066 - 1540)

The Staffordshire County Records office holds many ancient documents which detail the goings on within the Medieval Shire, some of which refer to Colton, two court cases of interest are outlined here: Henry, the son of Hugh de Colton is mentioned in the Staffordshire Assize Roll : 56 Henry III (i.e. A.D.1271) as one of the twelve jurors for Pirehill Hundred in the trial of one John, styled 'the Chaplain of Colton', who appeared at the house of Nicholas de Colton in the village intending to accost 'a certain stranger' but instead stabbed Christiana, Nicholas' wife, in the stomach, from which wound she died three days later. John the Chaplain was found guilty of murder and his posessions, amounting to 8 shillings and 6 pence, were confiscated by the court and the man himself, who did not appear before the court, was declared an outlaw. Another Medieval court case is detailed in the Kalendar of Juries : 35 Edward I (A.D.1306) when one Stephen de Slyndon was indicted for the death of Thomas de Banham of Colton. The defendant, however, produced a pardon from King Edward written at Farnham and dated 5th August 1294, also a letter from Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, dated at Bayonne on 15th March 1297, which declared that Stephen was in the service of the King in Gascony [presumably at the time of the murder of Thomas de Banham]. Nobody appeared at court to prosecute Stephen de Slyndon and the case against him was dismissed, along with separate cases against two other men, both of whom were able, like de Slyndon, to furnish the court with royal pardons exonerating them from all charges.

Colton was granted the right to hold a weekly market in 1241. The Exchequer Subsidy Roll of 1327 contains the names of some 27 land-owners in Colton along with their tax contributions totalling some 64 shillings, while a few years later the Staffordshire Lay Subsidy of 1332-3 lists only 16 contributors to the local tax assessment; the valuation of the town in the Lay Subsidy of 1334 was £57 5s.

Medieval Archaeology in Colton

There are a few surviving pieces of urban and rural architecture which may be dated back to the Medieval period in Colton; the presence of a Medieval Deer Park is shown by the well-preserved remains of a 'park pale' near Park Barn Farm (SK 0645 2185), and consisting of an earthwork with an outer ditch which has survived by being incorporated within modern field boundaries. Within the village, the foundations of a small rectangular building were discovered by a Mr Parker sometime before 1921 beneath the front lawn of Bellamour Lodge (SK 0457 2057), along with a stone corbel having a grotesque human face carved upon it and various other pieces of carved stone. These pieces of stone were claimed at the time to be the remains of a 13th century chapel, which, if true, may have been erected on the site of a former Saxon chapel implied in Domesday (see entry 11.29, above). No trace of the building is now visible on the lawn as the ground has been raised by about three feet in order to provide a level playing surface for the Lodge's tennis courts. Near the church at the west end of the village (SK 0474 2041) lies the base of a Medieval church cross which is not in situ, but it's original location remains unknown. The site of the Saxon and Medieval mill may be indicated by several field-names about a mile north of the village all containing the name 'Mill Ditch' which are dealt with on the page for Colt. (AHDS)

Post-Medieval Colton (A.D.1540 - 1901)

A timber-framed barn with brick infilling and a tile roof numbered amongst the outbuildings of Parchfields Farm (SK 051192) is thought to have been built during the early-Post-Medieval period and may be 16th or 17th century in date. Most of the structure of Malt House Farm (SK 0517 2051), a lobby entry house with a baffle-entry plan built of red brick upon a sandstone plinth with a plain tile roof, dates to the early-18th century; It's T-shaped rear wing is a later addition. To the east of the farm (SK 0519 2052) are Maltings dated to the 18th or early-19th century, originally constructed of brick with a tiled roof, the building was partly recostructed and extended to the rear in the 20th century. Rugeley Railway Station (SK 0491 2046), which opened on the Trent Valley Railway in 1847, is situated on the north bank of the River Trent and actually lies in Colton parish; the station was connected to the Cannock Mineral Railway in 1858. (AHDS)

Modern Colton (A.D.1901 - Present day)

There is nothing much of interest in Colton which belongs to the modern era, but there are a couple of sites mentioned in tithe maps which may be of archaeological interest: the name Castle Croft south of Bellamour Way and east of the church (SK 048203) may indicate the site of a former fortified mansion, and the field-name 'Upper Friars Meadow' some distance to the north of the village (SK 0345 2318) may indicate an alternate site for the presumed Saxon chapel. (AHDS)


Staffordshire Assize Roll : 56 Henry III, SHC (vol.4, 1883, pp. 191-215);
Kalendar of Juries : 35 Edward I, SHC (vol.7, pt.1, 1886, pp. 172-181);
Staffordshire Lay Subsidy 1327 : Pirehill hundred, SHC (vol.7, pt.1, 1886, pp.197-215);
Staffordshire Lay Subsidy 1332-3 : Pirehill hundred, SHC (vol.10, pt.1, 1889, pp.87-102);
Domesday Book - Staffordshire Ed. by John Morris (Phillimore, Chichester, 1976);
Staffordshire Place-Names including The Black Country by Anthony Poulton-Smith (Countryside, Berkshire, 1995);
Dictionary of English Place-Names by A.D. Mills (Oxford, 2nd Ed. 1998);
The Landscape of Place-Names by Margaret Gelling & Ann Cole (Shaun Tyas, Stamford, 2000);
Domesday Book - A Complete Translation Ed. by The Alecto Domesday Editorial Board (Penguin, London, 2002);

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