Originally from London, he spent some of his early life in India. He moved to West Cornwall in 1948, describing his discovery of St Just as a magical experience and the turning point of his life. Although he left Cornwall in 1951, he returned each year for thirty years, his paintings wholly concerned with the area. He then taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts until 1984. A recent correspondent (2012) also contributed the following memory: 'David also taught at Winchester School of Art where he once set out in a series of small drawings in my sketch book the nature of cubism.'
In 1979 he held a solo exhibition at the Newlyn Art Gallery, and participated in the Happy Returns Exhibition there in the winter of 1984. His paintings were selected for the Looking West Exhibition of 1987 held at the Royal College of Art, with the National Trust, to underline the NT campaign to save as much of the Penwith coastline as possible from developers. The exhibition was opened by the broadcaster and journalist Gerald Priestland, and the paintings exhibited by Haughton were Tregeseal (1958), Cape Cornwall Road (1973-78), and St Just from Carn Bosavern (1979).
His work was also selected for the exhibition in Truro to celebrate the Centenary of Cornwall County Council, A Century of Art in Cornwall 1889-1989, that was organised by Newlyn Orion Gallery on behalf of the county, and sponsored by Barclays Bank.