An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016
Gafford is a name that was brought to England by the ancestors of the Gafford family when they migrated to the region after the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Gafford family lived in Staffordshire with now extinct branches in Devon, Southampton and Buckinghamshire.  Some references claim that the surname was a nickname for a chubby cheeked or round faced person having derived from the Old French word "giffard," a pejorative form of "giffel," meaning "jaw." This is not the case. "The old historical Giffards of Normandy and England descended from the De Bollebecs, who were connected by marriage with Richard I, Duke of Normandy. Walter, son of de Bollebec, though surnamed 'Gifford,' or 'the Liberal,' seems to have been conservative in the acquisition and retention of lands; for he got not only the fair domain of Longueville, from Richard II of Normandy, but also the Earldom of Buckinghamshire." 
The surname Gafford was first found in Devon, Southampton, Buckinghamshire and Staffordshire. As mentioned above, the surviving Staffordshire branch has remained there since the reign of Henry II when Peter Gifford became Lord of the Manor of Chillington.  Chillington Hall is a Georgian country house near Brewood in Staffordshire. The current estate is the third manor on the site - the first stone castle was built by the family in the 12th century and part of the current cellar contains some of the original foundation. Another branch of the family was found at Great Blakenham in Suffolk. "Walter Gifford, Earl of Buckingham, appropriated the manor, in the time of William II., to the monks of Bec in Normandy, who established a cell here."  Little is known of Walter Gifford other than he was Vice-Chancellor and Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1311. Bletchley in Buckinghamshire was another family seat. "Walter Gifford, Earl of Buckingham, possessed by grant from William Rufus the whole landed property of this parish, which was inherited by Richard de Clare, Earl of Hertford, who had married his granddaughter, Roesia." 
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 Gifford, Giffard, Geffard, Gyfford, Gifferd, Geffard, Gifferd, Gyffard, Gyfferd, Gyford, Giford, Givard, Givord, Giverd and many more.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gafford research. Another 261 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1200, 1279, 1444, 1496, 1557, 1536, 1554, 1613, 1554, 1629, 1560, 1590, 1548, 1600, 1642, 1734, 1687, 1703, 1703 and 1734 are included under the topic Early Gafford History in all our PDF Extended History products.
Another 211 words (15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gafford Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.
Some of the Gafford family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 41 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.
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 Gafford or a variant listed above:
Gafford Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
Gafford Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
Gafford Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
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: Malo mori quam foedari
Motto Translation: I would rather die than be disgraced.
The Gafford Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gafford Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.
This page was last modified on 18 March 2016 at 14:03.