The surname Laughton originates in the British Isles. People of the feudal era in England did not have surnames as such. Their given name and some association such as their profession would identify them. For example, the local blacksmith, John, would be called John the Smith or simply, John Smith. The local tailor, William, would be William Tailor. Landholders were called Lord. This title would be coupled with the name of their domain. The Lord of the domain, Essex, would be called Lord Essex. Sometimes, the domain would be named after the founding Lord. Sometimes the Lord would assume the name of an existing domain.
In Olde English, laughton means "town by the lake." Today, there are at least seven English and Scottish townships and manors named Laughton. The first persons named Laughton were probably feudal lords whose land holdings covered the domain of a "town by the lake." Offspring of these original Lord Laughtons may then have taken over other domains and named those domains "Laughton." It is possible that Laughtons of nobility are all of the same family origin.
The second phase of Laughton surnames probably came from the Retainers (Knights) of one or more Lord Laughtons. The people would be called "Sir John of Laughton."
The last phase of Laughtons came from the common folk who lived in a Laughton township or domain. As these people ventured out from their little town by the lake, the might decide to identify themselves Robert of Laughton rather than Robert the Tailor.
Given this sort of history, it is highly probable that there is no single
root for all of today's Laughtons. Any individual Laughton family may have
originated from one or more Lord Laughtons. It is even more probable that
an individual Laughton family originated from a John the Baker, or William
the Cook who choose the take the identity of John of Laughton or William
of Laughton when they moved to the big city.
For a different story about the origins of the Laughtons, see the
Name Origin page supplied by Alan Laughton.