You have refered to a James Atherton born 1524. Can I ask what you know about this man and also the source of your information?
Robert of Atherton ----------------------
Prior to the year 1900 it was believed that the above was the FIRST recorded Atherton and that Robert lived during the reign of King John (1199 to 1216). This Robert was recorded in a pedigree extracted by a man named William Dugdale in the year 1664! Dugdale says that Robert was the Sheriff of Lancaster during the reign of John but the only man named Robert to serve as Sheriff during this period was Robert of Tatershall.
In 1900 a very detailed history of Lancashire was published and this history remains the leading work on the history of the county. It appears that in the year 1212, in anticipation of war, a list of men who had a duty to serve as Knights was made. In this year Henry son of William of Atherton is recorded as holding the manor of Atherton in return for "knight Service".
We now lean towards the view that Henry of Atherton , born around 1145 , is the first recorded Atherton . He was Lord of the Manor of Atherton and his family will probably have come to England in 1066 with William, Duke of Normandy.
This is what I know.
However, I am very interested in the ancestors of Major Gen Humphrey Atherton and also how James Atherton 1524 fits into the picture.