English: habitational name from any of the various places so called. The majority, with examples in at least fourteen counties, get the name from Old English hōh ‘ridge’, ‘spur’ (literally ‘heel’) + tūn ‘enclosure’, ‘settlement’. Haughton in Nottinghamshire also has this origin, and may have contributed to the surname. A smaller group of Houghtons, with examples in Lancashire and South Yorkshire, have as their first element Old English halh ‘nook’, ‘recess’. In the case of isolated examples in Devon and East Yorkshire, the first elements appear to be unattested Old English personal names or bynames, of which the forms approximate to Huhha and Hofa respectively, but the meanings are unknown.
Dictionary of American Family Names © Patrick Hanks 2003, 2006.