Clifton History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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." [1] 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. [1]

Early Origins of the Clifton family

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. [2]

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." [3]

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." [2] "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." [3]

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.

Early History of the Clifton family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Clifton research. Another 233 words (17 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 and printed products wherever possible.

Clifton 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 Clifton, Clyfton, Clyftoun, Cliffton, Cliffeton, Clifftown, Cliffetown, Cliftown, Cliftoun, Clifftoun, Clifftone and many more.

Early Notables of the Clifton family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir Gervase Clifton, 1st Baronet (1587-1666), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1614 and 1666, supporter of the Royalist cause in the English Civil War; Sir Clifford Clifton (1626-1670)...
Another 42 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Clifton Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Clifton migration to the United States +

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
  • Jane Clifton, who landed in Virginia in 1633 [4]
  • Richard Clifton, who landed in Virginia in 1642 [4]
  • Lady Clifton, who arrived in Virginia in 1648 [4]
  • Sarah Clifton, who landed in Maryland in 1650 [4]
  • Paul Clifton, who landed in Virginia in 1650 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Clifton Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Dr. John Clifton, of London, England, settled in Maine in 1709
  • Hugh Clifton, who landed in Philadelphia Pennsylvania in 1712-1713 [4]
  • Thomas Clifton, who landed in Virginia in 1714 [4]
  • Thomas Clifton, who landed in America in 1760-1763 [4]
  • John Clifton, who landed in New England in 1766 [4]

Australia Clifton migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Clifton Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Clifton, English convict from Buckinghamshire, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on July 29th, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [5]
  • Thomas Clifton, English convict from Northampton, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on October 22nd, 1824, settling in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • William Clifton, English convict from Northampton, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on October 22nd, 1824, settling in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Mr. Thomas Clifton, (b. 1806), aged 19, British convict who was convicted in Northampton for 14 years for stealing sheep, transported aboard the "Asia III" on 5th January 1825, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1871 [7]
  • Thomas Clifton, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Madawaska" in 1849 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Clifton migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Clifton Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Daniel Clifton, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Richard Clifton, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Mr. Richard Clifton, (1798-1873), aged 39, British agricultural labourer, born in Egerton, Kent, England travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [9]
  • Mrs. Margaret Clifton, (1803-1885), aged 32, British settler, born in Sussex, England travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [9]
  • Mr. Richard Clifton, (b. 1829), aged 12, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Clifton (post 1700) +

  • Richard R. Clifton (b. 1950), federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Chester Victor Clifton Jr. (1913-1991), Major General in the United States Army, aide to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Jeffrey Chad Clifton (b. 1976), American offensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers
  • Mark Clifton (1906-1963), American science fiction author and businessman
  • Lucille Clifton (1936-2010), American poet and educator from Buffalo, New York
  • John C. Clifton (1781-1841), English musical composer, born in London, was intended by his father to become a merchant, but his early talent for music was so pronounced that he was placed under the care of a relation, Richard Bellamy, with whom he studied music for five years [10]
  • Francis Clifton (d. 1736), English physician, the fourth and youngest son of Josiah Clifton, merchant, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk [10]
  • Peter Clifton (1945-2018), Australian filmmaker, best known for directing the Led Zeppelin concert film The Song Remains the Same
  • Bill Clifton (1916-1967), nicknamed "Canada Bill", Canadian jazz pianist who worked with Benny Goodman, Ray Noble, Woody Herman and Paul Whiteman, one of the first musicians to make a long playing record, his "Piano Moods" in 1948
  • Helen Clifton (b. 1948), British Salvation Army Commissioner, wife of the 18th General of The Salvation Army
  • ... (Another 4 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMAS Sydney II
  • Mr. James Irvine Clifton (1916-1941), Australian Paymaster Lieutenant (S) from Subiaco, Western Australia, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II and died in the sinking [11]


The Clifton 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: Tenez le droit
Motto Translation: Guard the Right.


Suggested Readings for the name Clifton +

  • 1281 "A Genealogy of the Clifton, Leaton, Rourke, and Secord Families" by Richard Lee Secord, "Our Clifton Ancestors and Their Descendants" by Nell M. Wright.

  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1823 with 151 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1823
  6. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1824 with 9 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1824
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 27th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia-111
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) "MADAWASKA" 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Madawaska.htm
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020
  11. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp


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