Show ContentsFordham 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 Fordham family lived in Essex, in the town of Fordham. Ancient records reveal the name Fordham is derived from the Old English ford, which means ford, and ham, which means homestead. Towns bearing this name also exist in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Fordham Essex is arguably the most important of these towns, but all were held by Norman nobles in the 11th century.

Early Origins of the Fordham family

The surname Fordham was first found in Essex where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Fordham. In the Domesday Book, [1] a survey of England undertaken for Duke William of Normandy in 1086 A.D. after his conquest of England at Hastings in 1066, there were three villages or manors named Fordham, one in Cambridgeshire, one in Norfolk and one in Essex, all were held by Norman nobles.

The one which was most influential and gave rise to the name Fordham was that of Fordham in Essex which was held by William de Warrene and others. In the survey of 1086 the village consisted of a Mill, 6 Beehives, and 25 goats. It was the Norman custom that the senior son should continue the main line name, but that the second son should adopt the name of the manor.

"A small Gilbertine priory was founded in the reign of Henry III., by Sir Robert de Fordham, [in Fordham, Cambridgeshire] as a cell to the great monastery of the same order at Sempringham, in Lincolnshire; but scarcely a vestige remains." [2]

John Fordun (d. 1384?), was the writer upon whom Walter Bower based the earlier part of his great work, the 'Scotichronicon.' Fordun wrote fifteen of the first twenty-three chapters of book. [3]

Early History of the Fordham family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fordham research. Another 78 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 138 and 1388 are included under the topic Early Fordham History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fordham Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Fordham, Fordeham, Fordsham, Fordesham, Fordam and others.

Early Notables of the Fordham family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Fordham Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fordham Ranking

In the United States, the name Fordham is the 5,920th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [4]

United States Fordham migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Fordham or a variant listed above:

Fordham Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Robert Fordham, who settled in Massachusetts in 1635
  • Robert Fordham, who arrived in Ncw England in 1641 [5]
  • Jonah Fordham, who arrived in New England in 1658 [5]
Fordham Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Edward Fordham, who settled in Rappahannock Virginia in 1728
  • William Fordham, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [5]
  • George Fordham, who settled in Pennsylvania in 1773
Fordham Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Fordham, who settled in New York State in 1821
  • Joseph Fordham, who landed in New York in 1827 [5]

Australia Fordham migration to Australia +

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

Fordham Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Fordham, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on September 21, 1826, settling in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Abraham Fordham, who arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Katherine Stewart Forbes" in 1837 [7]
  • Elizabeth Fordham, who arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Katherine Stewart Forbes" in 1837 [7]
  • William Robert Fordham, who arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Katherine Stewart Forbes" in 1837 [7]
  • Francis Fordham, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Navarino" in 1849 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Fordham 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:

Fordham Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Smith Fordham, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Artemesia" in 1854

Contemporary Notables of the name Fordham (post 1700) +

  • Sharon Fordham, American Broadway theatrical producer, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and angel investor
  • Thomas James Fordham (b. 1974), American retired Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Lindsey Todd Fordham (b. 1973), American football player
  • Andrew Fordham (1962-2021), English professional darts player, known as The Viking, winner of the 2004 BDO World Darts Championship and the 1999 Winmau World Masters
  • Alan Fordham (b. 1964), former English cricketer
  • Michael Scott Montague Fordham (1905-1995), English psychiatrist, a Jungian analyst
  • Montague Edward Fordham (1864-1948), English agriculturalist and advocate of rural reform
  • Andy "The Viking" Fordham (b. 1962), English darts player
  • Wilfred Gurney Fordham QC, Recorder of the Crown Court, Ottford, Kent, England
  • Sir Alfred Stanley Fordham KBE, CMG., H.M., Lieutenant for Cambridgeshire, England
  • ... (Another 8 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Royal Oak
  • Alfred L. Fordham, British Musician with the Royal Marine aboard the HMS Royal Oak (1939) when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [9]

  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. 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)
  6. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Albion voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1826 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from
  7. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) KATHERINE STEWART FORBES 1837 arrived Holdfast Bay, near Adelaide, on October 17, 1837. . Retrieved from
  8. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) NAVARINO 1849. Retrieved from
  9. Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from on Facebook