Clefford History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
Clefford is a name that was carried to England in the great wave of migration from Normandy following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Clefford family lived in one of the parishes by the name of Clifford in Herefordshire, Gloucestershire.
Early Origins of the Clefford family
The surname Clefford 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." 
"[Hopton Castle in Shropshire] was distinguished for its castle, which was given by Henry II. to Walter de Clifford, and which, during the parliamentary war, was garrisoned by the royalists, but after a fortnight's siege was surrendered to the assailants, when most of the garrison were put to the sword, and the governor was conveyed as a prisoner to Ludlow Castle." 
Now in ruins, the castle was featured in the British TV series Time Team in 2010 and as of November 2008, the Hopton Castle Preservation Trust has taken ownership.
Early History of the Clefford family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Clefford research. Another 157 words (11 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 Clefford History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Clefford Spelling Variations
Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, Norman French and other languages became incorporated into English throughout the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Clefford include Clifford, Cliffort, Clifforde, Clifforte and others.
Early Notables of the Clefford family (pre 1700)
Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Robert de Clifford, 1st Baron de Clifford, also 1st Lord of Skipton (c. 1274-1314), an English soldier born in Clifford Castle, Herefordshire, he became first Lord Warden of the Marches, defending the English border with Scotland; Sir Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland KG (1493-1542), close friend of Henry VIII; Henry Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberland (1517-1570); Sir George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, KG (1558-1605), an English peer, naval commander and courtier...
Another 81 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Clefford Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Clefford family to Ireland
Some of the Clefford family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 69 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Clefford family
In England at this time, the uncertainty of the political and religious environment of the time caused many families to board ships for distant British colonies in the hopes of finding land and opportunity, and escaping persecution. The voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, though, and many arrived in North America sick, starved, and destitute. Those who did make it, however, were greeted with greater opportunities and freedoms that they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Early immigration records have shown some of the first Cleffords to arrive on North American shores: Patrick Clifferty settled in Philadelphia in 1840; Oliver and Marie Clifford settled in Virginia in 1635; George Clifford settled in Boston Mass in 1645.
Contemporary Notables of the name Clefford (post 1700) +
- Clefford Floyd Vickrey, American Democrat politician, Postmaster at Frederick, Oklahoma, 1943-55 (acting, 1943-44) 
Related Stories +
The Clefford Motto +
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: Semper paratus
Motto Translation: Always prepared.
- ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 11) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html