Seton was born Ernest Evan Thompson on August 14, 1860 in South Shields, U.K. His father believed he was the rightful heir of the fifth Earl of Winton, George Seton. Seton joined in the focus on noble lineage.
When he was 21, he adopted the name Ernest Thompson Seton, sometimes calling himself Ernest Evan Thompson Seton. This distressed his mother and, at her request, in 1887, he began to once again use Thompson as his last name, either as Ernest Seton-Thompson or Ernest Seton Thompson (without the hyphen). Following her death, he legally had his name changed to Ernest Thompson Seton
Seton published work under these names: Ernest Evan Thompson, Ernest Evan Thompson Seton, Ernest Seton-Thompson and, finally, Ernest Thompson Seton. He was also known by many nicknames which included “Chief”, “Black Wolf” and “Wolf Seton” and by names bestowed on him by his Native American friends, which included Mato-Ska (White Bear) and Ah’ Pas-to (Sign Talker).
As a highly public figure, he was subject to some lampooning in the press over his name changes.
Seton’s immediately family was not immune to his propensity for name changes.
Seton’s first wife, Grace Gallatin was sometimes known as Grace Seton-Thompson and Grace Thompson Seton. She continued to refer to herself as Mrs. Ernest Thompson Seton, even after their divorce and Seton’s subsequent remarriage.
His daughter Ann adopted the pen name Anya Seton and became a best-selling author of historical fiction. She apparently concocted a dubious story of being named Anya by a Native American visitor to Wyndygoul.
His second wife, who was born Julia Moses and whose first husband was Edward Grindle (Ted) Buttree, was known as Julia Moss Buttree, Julia Moss Seton, Julia M. Seton and often “Julie”.
Ernest and Julia adopted a daughter in 1938, which they named Beulah. She did not like the name Beulah and changed it to Deanna, a name she chose because her dance teacher had called her Dee-anski as a pet name. She later shortened it to Dee. She was also christened by San Ildefonso medicine man Juan Gonzales who gave her the names Blue Turquoise and Golden Rock. His children also gave her a name, Payo Pai (Summer Flower) which she liked and used it in her email address.