An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016
The name Clifton was brought to England in the wave of migration that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Clifton family lived in Lancashire despite the fact that there are numerous places so named throughout Britain. The reason for the popularity of the place name is drawn from the fact that Clifton means "farmstead on or near a cliff or bank," from the Old English words "clif" + "tun."  The Bedfordshire local seems to be the oldest as it was recorded as Cliftune in 944. Many are listed in the Domesday Book with various spellings including Clistone (Avon), Cliftone ( Bedfordshire + Nottinghamshire + Buckinghamshire), Cliftune (Derbyshire), Cliftune (Staffordshire), Cliptone (Warwickshire) and so on. 
The surname Clifton was first found in Lancashire where the surname was first found at Kirkham, where William de Clifton held ten carucates of land in the 42nd year of Henry III. He was Collector of Aids for the county. His son Gilbert, Lord of Clifton, died in the seventeenth of Edward II.  Westby with Plumptons in Lancashire was an ancient home to the family. "Westbi and Plunton are mentioned in the Domesday Survey, and as early as Edward I.'s reign were held by the family of Clifton, of whom William de Clifton had a charter for free warren in Clifton and Westby from Edward II."  In Nottinghamshire, "Gervase de Clifton, living in the fifth of John, is the patriarch of this honourable family, who took their name from the manor of Clifton, which was the inheritance of Sir Gervase Clifton, in the ninth of Edward II."  "Westbi [(Wesby)] and Plunton are mentioned in the Domesday survey, and as early as Edward I.'s reign were held by the family of Clifton, of whom William de Clifton had a charter for free warren in Clifton and Westby from Edward II."  Clifton Hall is a country house that dates back to the 11th century and was held by the Clifton family until the mid 20th century. In 2008, the new millionaire owner, Anwar Rashid, and his family left the house and stopped paying the mortgage because they believed it was haunted. The property was then repossessed by the bank and at the time of writing is still up for sale.
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.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Clifton research. Another 465 words (33 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1257, 1278, 1368, 1414, 1666, 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 United States in the 17th Century
Clifton Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
Clifton Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
Clifton Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
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.
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 9 March 2016 at 11:02.