An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016
Clifford is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Clifford family lived in one of the parishes by the name of Clifford in Herefordshire, Gloucestershire.
The surname Clifford was first found in Herefordshire at Clifford, a village and civil parish on the south bank of the River Wye which dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086 where it was listed as Cliford. Clifford Castle which is located there is an early motte and bailey castle built on a cliff overlooking a ford on the River Wye in 1070 by William Fitzpond. His heir forfeited the lands and castle after and unsuccessful rebellion against the King in 1075. Walter Fitz Richard later took the name of Walter de Clifford after he seized the Castle c. 1162. Walter de Clifford III, grandson of Walter Fitz Richard rebelled against King Henry III in 1233 and was forced to surrender to the king after just a few days of a besiege. He made his peace with the king and led his troops against Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth. While the family claim descent from the Herefordshire village, Clifford is a small village in the City of Leeds, West Yorkshire; and Clifford Chambers is a village two miles south of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. Both of these locations are ancient in their own right; Clifford, Yorkshire is listed in the Domesday Book and Clifford Chambers dating back to 922 was listed as Clifforda. Part of the reason there is more than one location so named is that the location name means "ford at a cliff or bank" from the Old English words clif + ford.  The market-town and parish of Skipton in the West Riding of Yorkshire is or particular significance to the family. The district was still strongly held by the Saxons after the Conquest until Edward II. bestowed the lands to one of his favourites Piers de Gaveston. "Upon the death of Gaveston, the barony of Skipton was granted by Edward II. to Robert, Lord Clifford, whose descendant John de Clifford, taking part with the Lancastrians in the wars between the houses of York and Lancaster, suffered an attainder in the reign of Edward IV., who conferred the barony on Sir Wm. Stanley. This attainder, however, was reversed on the accession of Henry VII., when Henry de Clifford, who for nearly twenty-five years had lived in concealment among the fells in Cumberland, was reinstated in his possessions, and created Earl of Cumberland. He held a principal command in the English army at the battle of Flodden-Field; and was succeeded after his death by his son Henry, who, for his signal services in suppressing the rebellion called the Pilgrimage of Grace, received from Henry VIII. a grant of the extensive revenues of Bolton Abbey. The barony continued in the Clifford family till the death of George, the seventeenth Baron of Clifford, and third earl of Cumberland, who died in 1605. The ancient castle, for many generations the residence of the Cliffords, is a spacious quadrangular structure, defended at the angles and on the sides by massive circular towers, with an octangular tower at the extremity of the eastern side, built by the first Earl of Cumberland." 
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 Clifford, Cliffort, Clifforde, Clifforte and others.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Clifford research. Another 313 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1068, 1274, 1314, 1493, 1542, 1517, 1570, 1558, 1605, 1670, 1630, 1673, 1660, 1672, 1677, 1622, 1698, 1663, 1730, 1700, 1732 and are included under the topic Early Clifford History in all our PDF Extended History products.
Another 307 words (22 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Clifford Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.
Some of the Clifford family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 125 words (9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included 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 Clifford or a variant listed above:
Clifford Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
Clifford Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
Clifford Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
Clifford Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
Clifford Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
Clifford Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
This page was last modified on 23 April 2016 at 21:33.