Show ContentsElford History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient history of the Elford name begins with the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the family resided in a region called Elford in the county of Northumberland and in Staffordshire. The surname Elford is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after.

Early Origins of the Elford family

The surname Elford was first found in Northumberland at Elford, which dates back to at least 1256 when it was listed as Eleford and had two possible origins: having derived from the Old English personal name Ella or Ellen + ford as in "ford of a man called Ella"; and "ford where elder-trees grow." [1] [2]

Elford is also a village and civil parish in Lichfield District of Staffordshire that dates back to 1002 when it was listed as Elleford and later was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Eleford. [3]

While this latter village is older, the Northumberland village is where the first records of the name were found.

Early records of the family were also found in Kent, where William de Elleford was listed in the Pipe Rolls for 1195. Years later, Thomas de Eleford was found in the Feet of Fines for Oxfordshire in 1291 and later again, Thomas Elleford was listed in the Feet of Fines for Warwickshire 1410-1411. [4]

Sheepstor, Devon "was the ancient home of the Elfords, and one of these, a staunch Royalist, is said to have found refuge from his enemies in a cavity amidst the confused heap or 'clatter ' of detached rocks that clothes the precipitous side of Sheepstor Hill, and possibly named it Schittis or Schattis Tor the older form from its shattered aspect. The cavity is now commonly called the Pixies' Hole. Elford is said to have employed his time in painting its rocky sides, but of this there is no trace." [5]

Early History of the Elford family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Elford research. Another 128 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1677, 1714, 1703, 1703, 1706, 1720, 1714, 1749, 1837, 1749, 1797, 1798, 1833, 1796, 1806, 1807, 1808, 1798, 1800, 1837 and 1733 are included under the topic Early Elford History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Elford Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Elford include Elford, Elfords, Elfford, Elffords and others.

Early Notables of the Elford family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Richard Elford (1677?-1714) English singer, lay vicar at St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, he sang before Queen Anne at St. James's Palace on her birthday in 1703. He "became famous in London as a singer of sacred music at the beginning of the seventeenth century. In his youth he belonged to the choirs of Lincoln and Durham cathedrals, and came to London to display his fine counter-tenor on the stage. His success at the theatres was small, owing to his awkward and ungainly appearance. Elford was also admired in profane music; he was chosen...
Another 434 words (31 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Elford Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Elford migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled 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 ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Elford or a variant listed above:

Elford Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Elford, who arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1628
  • John Elford, who landed in Maryland in 1674 [6]
  • James Elford, who arrived in America in 1685
Elford Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James M Elford, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1823 [6]
Elford Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Elford, (b. 1877), aged 26, Cornish miner travelling aboard the ship "Lucania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 1st August 1903 en route to Wakefield, Michigan, USA [7]
  • Mr. Thomas Elford, (b. 1884), aged 21, Cornish blacksmith travelling aboard the ship "Lucania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 13th May 1905 en route to Norway, Michigan, USA [7]

Canada Elford migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Elford Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

Australia Elford migration to Australia +

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

Elford Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Priscilla Elford, aged 19, a seamstress, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Punjab"

West Indies Elford migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [9]
Elford Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Richard Elford, who settled in Jamaica in 1657

Contemporary Notables of the name Elford (post 1700) +

  • Victor Henry "Vic" Elford (1935-2022), English sports car racing, rallying, and Formula One driver who participated in 13 World Championship F1 Grands Prix scoring a total of 8 championship points
  • Sir William Elford (1749-1837), 1st Baronet, an English banker, politician, and amateur artist of Bickham, Buckland Monachorum, Devonshire [10]
  • Richard Elford (d. 1714), English vocalist who became famous in London as a singer of sacred music at the beginning of the seventeenth century
  • Ernest Elford (b. 1867), English vicar, listed in the "Who's Who in Northumberland" for 1936
  • Bishop Keith Elford, Bishop of the Free Methodist Church in Canada
  • John Elford, Australian former rugby league footballer
  • Shane Elford (b. 1977), Australian rugby league player
  • Theophilus Elford (b. 1854), Canadian lumberman, listed in "Who's Who: Canada 1914"
  • Harold Elford Johns OC (1915-1998), Canadian medical physicist
  • William Elford Leach (1790-1836), English naturalist

The Elford 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: Difficilia quae pulchra
Motto Translation: Beautiful things are difficult.

  1. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  6. 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)
  7. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from
  8. Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  10. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020 on Facebook