A friend recently sent me this picture. (Left) He said,
“I was mountain biking with my daughter through Aliso and Woods Canyon in Laguna Beach, CA, and came upon this sign.”
There is also a Moulton Parkway in that same area in Laguna Hills; it seems probable that both were named after some influential person named Moulton from that area, although I am pretty sure it is not me.
Some people have a hard time figuring out how to pronounce Moulton. One of the strange rules of the English language is if there are two vowels together in a word, one of them is silent.
But is it the first or the second vowel? In this case it is the second, so drop the “U” and pronounce it Molton.
Moulton is a pretty common name both in England and the US; look in any US phone book and you will find at least half a dozen. In England and Scotland there are at least five small towns or villages named Moulton, which I am sure is where the name originated.
English surnames often derive from the occupation of a person; hence Smith, Baker, or Miller. Or some less obvious ones like Cooper (Someone who makes wooden barrels.) or Fletcher (Someone who puts the feather flights on arrows.) Not a lot of job opportunities for fletchers these days.
Names like Black, White, Brown or Green came from the color of a person’s hair or eyes. Often a person was named John, William or Robert, and his son was called Johnson, Williamson or Robertson, and in many cases it got abbreviated to Johns, Williams or Roberts.
Other English surnames are the same as the place they originally came from. Moulton is one of those names. Its original meaning was simply, “A place where mules were kept.”
So people were named after a place, the later places got named after people. This I think is the most likely scenario in names of places in America. Almost certainly the case of Moulton Pkwy. in Laguna Hills, California. I would be interested to know who that was if anyone from that area knows.
There is a town of Moulton in Alabama, which may or may not have been named after a town of Moulton in the UK.
However, another town in Texas was named Moulton by someone from Moulton, Alabama who apparently lacked imagination.
Only 3,000 or so people live in Moulton, Alabama, and under a 1,000 in Moulton, Texas.
I wonder if there is anyone named Moulton living in either place.
Addendum Feb. 24. 2011