Cliffart History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 added many new elements to an already vibrant culture. Among these were thousands of new names. The Cliffart family lived in one of the parishes by the name of Clifford in West Yorkshire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire. Of the three parishes, Clifford Chambers in Gloucestershire is the oldest, dating back to Saxon times when it was known as Clifforda in 932. By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 where all were listed, the parishes were registered as either Cliford or Clifort. 
Early Origins of the Cliffart family
The surname Cliffart 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 (formerly in Gloucestershire.)
Part of the reason there is more than one location so named is that the literally the 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 Cliffart family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cliffart research. Another 157 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1068, 1274, 1314, 1493, 1513, 1517, 1523, 1542, 1558, 1570, 1605, 1622, 1630, 1660, 1663, 1670, 1671, 1672, 1673, 1677, 1698, 1700, 1730, 1732, 1816 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Cliffart History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Cliffart Spelling Variations
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.
Early Notables of the Cliffart family
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 Cliffart Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Cliffart family to Ireland
Some of the Cliffart 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 Cliffart family
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 Cliffart or a variant listed above: Patrick Clifferty settled in Philadelphia in 1840; Oliver and Marie Clifford settled in Virginia in 1635; George Clifford settled in Boston Mass in 1645.
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.
- Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
- 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.