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

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

The distinguished surname McGuffin emerged among the industrious people of Flanders, which was an important trading partner and political ally of Britain during the Middle Ages. As a result of the frequent commercial intercourse between the Flemish and English nations, many Flemish migrants settled in Britain. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. One of the most common classes of surname is the patronymic surname, which was usually derived from the first name of the person's father. Flemish surnames of this type are often characterized by the diminutive suffix -kin, which became very frequent in England during the 14th century. The surname McGuffin is derived from Giff, a pet form of the personal name Geoffrey. This pet form is supplemented by the diminutive suffix -on or -in.

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Flemish surnames are characterized by a large number of spelling variations. One reason for this is that medieval English lacked definite spelling rules. The spellings of surnames were also influenced by the official court languages, which were French and Latin. Names were rarely spelled consistently in medieval times. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to specific spelling rules, and people often had their names registered in several different forms throughout their lives. One of the greatest reasons for change is the linguistic uniqueness of the Flemish settlers in England, who spoke a language closely related to Dutch. The pronunciation and spelling of Flemish names were often altered to suit the tastes of English-speaking people. In many cases, the first, final, or middle syllables of surnames were eliminated. The name has been spelled Giffin, Giffen, Geffen, Giffan, Giffon, Geffan, Geffon, Giffines, Giffins, Giffans, Giffons, Whiffen, Whiffin, Wiffin, Wiffen, McGiffen and many more.

First found in Ayrshire where they held a family seat from very early times.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGuffin research. Another 217 words(16 lines of text) covering the years 137 and 1379 are included under the topic Early McGuffin History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early McGuffin Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McGuffin family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 101 words(7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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The records on immigrants and ships' passengers show a number of people bearing the name McGuffin:

McGuffin Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Archibald McGuffin, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1853
  • James McGuffin, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1854

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  1. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  2. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  3. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  4. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  5. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  6. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  7. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  8. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  9. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  10. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  11. ...

The McGuffin Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McGuffin 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 February 2013 at 14:36.

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