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Clifton is a name that first reached England following 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. 
It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Clifton are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Clifton include Clifton, Clyfton, Clyftoun, Cliffton, Cliffeton, Clifftown, Cliffetown, Cliftown, Cliftoun, Clifftoun, Clifftone and many more.
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.
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.
Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried 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
This page was last modified on 9 March 2016 at 11:02.