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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Clifton family come from? What is the English Clifton family crest and coat of arms? When did the Clifton family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Clifton family history?

The name Clifton was brought to England in the wave of migration that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Clifton family lived in one of the many parishes by the name of Clifton in Carlisle, Ely, Gloucestershire and others.


Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Clifton, Clyfton, Clyftoun, Cliffton, Cliffeton, Clifftown, Cliffetown, Cliftown, Cliftoun, Clifftoun, Clifftone and many more.

First found in Lancashire where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Clifton research. Another 395 words(28 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1257, 1278, 1368, 1414, 1st , 1587, 1666, 1614, 1666, 1626, 1670, 1659, 1612, 1675, 1663, 1686, 1683 and 1686 are included under the topic Early Clifton History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 163 words(12 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Clifton Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Clifton or a variant listed above:

Clifton Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Jane Clifton, who landed in Virginia in 1633
  • Richard Clifton, who landed in Virginia in 1642
  • Lady Clifton, who arrived in Virginia in 1648
  • Sarah Clifton, who landed in Maryland in 1650
  • Paul Clifton, who landed in Virginia in 1650

Clifton Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Dr. John Clifton, of London, England, settled in Maine in 1709
  • Hugh Clifton, who landed in Philadelphia Pennsylvania in 1712-1713
  • Thos Clifton, who landed in Virginia in 1714
  • Thomas Clifton, who landed in America in 1760-1763
  • John Clifton, who landed in New England in 1766


  • Lucille Clifton (1936-2010), American poet and educator from Buffalo, New York
  • Mark Clifton (1906-1963), American science fiction author and businessman
  • Jeffrey Chad Clifton (b. 1976), American offensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers
  • Chester Victor Clifton Jr. (1913-1991), Major General in the United States Army, aide to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Richard R. Clifton (b. 1950), federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Pete Clifton (b. 1962), British media executive, former head of BBC News Interactive
  • Shaw Clifton (b. 1945), the 18th General of The Salvation Army
  • Geoffrey Clifton -Brown (b. 1953), British politician and farmer
  • Bernie Clifton, British comedian and entertainer
  • Helen Clifton (b. 1948), British Salvation Army Commissioner, wife of the 18th General of The Salvation Army



  • A Genealogy of the Clifton, Leaton, Rourke, and Secord Families by Richard Lee Secord.
  • Our Clifton Ancestors and Their Descendants by Nell M. Wright.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Tenez le droit
Motto Translation: Guard the Right.


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  1. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  2. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  3. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  4. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  5. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  6. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  7. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  8. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  9. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  10. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  11. ...

The Clifton Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Clifton Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 1 October 2014 at 10:36.

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