Giffen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname Giffen emerged among the industrious people of Flanders, which was an important trading partner and political ally of Britain during the Middle Ages. As a result of the frequent commercial intercourse between the Flemish and English nations, many Flemish migrants settled in Britain. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. One of the most common classes of surname is the patronymic surname, which was usually derived from the first name of the person's father. Flemish surnames of this type are often characterized by the diminutive suffix -kin, which became very frequent in England during the 14th century. The surname Giffen is derived from Giff, a pet form of the personal name Geoffrey. This pet form is supplemented by the diminutive suffix -on or -in.

Early Origins of the Giffen family

The surname Giffen was first found in North Ayrshire where the Barony of Giffen was in the parish of Beith in the former District of Cunninghame. Giffen Castle is today in ruins but the castle was home to the Lordship of Giffin, which included the Baronies of Giffen, Trearne, Hessilhead, Broadstone, Roughwood and Ramshead dating back to the 15th century. It fell into disrepair soon after 1726 and finally collapsed in 1838.

Further to the south, "the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire (1327) and Warwickshire (1332) contain at least 40 surnames [with the] -en [suffix.] " [1] By example, Peter and Rose Geffen were listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Warwickshire in 1332. Willelmus Gyffon was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379. [2]

The McGuffin or MacGuffin variant is an interesting one. There are two known uses of the name and in both cases, the reason for its use is unknown.

First, MacGuffin or McGuffin is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues that has been made popular by Alfred Hitchcock, George Lucas and Yves Lavandier. The name MacGuffin was first coined by the English screenwriter Angus MacPhail (1903-1962.)

Secondly, MacGuffin is a block cipher created in 1994 by Bruce Schneier and Matt Blaze at a Fast Software Encryption workshop.

Early History of the Giffen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Giffen research. Another 124 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1710, 1837, 1910, 1640 and are included under the topic Early Giffen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Giffen Spelling Variations

Flemish surnames are characterized by a large number of spelling variations. One reason for this is that medieval English lacked definite spelling rules. The spellings of surnames were also influenced by the official court languages, which were French and Latin. Names were rarely spelled consistently in medieval times. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to specific spelling rules, and people often had their names registered in several different forms throughout their lives. One of the greatest reasons for change is the linguistic uniqueness of the Flemish settlers in England, who spoke a language closely related to Dutch. The pronunciation and spelling of Flemish names were often altered to suit the tastes of English-speaking people. In many cases, the first, final, or middle syllables of surnames were eliminated. The name has been spelled Giffin, Giffen, Geffen, Giffan, Giffon, Geffan, Geffon, Giffines, Giffins, Giffans, Giffons, Whiffen, Whiffin, Wiffin, Wiffen, McGiffen and many more.

Early Notables of the Giffen family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Giffen family to Ireland

Some of the Giffen family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Giffen migration to the United States +

In the immigration and passenger lists a number of early immigrants bearing the name Giffen were found:

Giffen Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Giffen, who settled in Boston in 1769

Canada Giffen migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Giffen Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • James Giffen, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • John Giffen, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750

West Indies Giffen 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. [3]
Giffen Settlers in West Indies in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Giffen, who settled in Jamaica in 1801
  • Thomas Giffen, who arrived in Jamaica in 1801 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Giffen (post 1700) +

  • Robert Carlisle Giffen (1886-1962), United States Navy admiral, Commander Service Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (1945-1946), recipient of the Navy Cross and Navy Distinguished Service Medal
  • Keith Ian Giffen (b. 1952), American comic book illustrator and writer
  • Sir Robert Giffen KCB (1837-1910), Scottish statistician and economist, Fellow of the Royal Society in 1892, awarded the Guy Medal (gold) in 1894, eponym of the term "giffen good," a contrarian principle where people consume more of a product as the price rises and vice versa
  • Walter Giffen (1861-1949), Australian cricketer who played in 3 Tests between 1887 and 1892, older brother of George Giffen
  • George Giffen (1859-1927), Australian cricketer who played for South Australia and Australia, posthumously inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 2008
  • Brad Giffen, Canadian television reporter, anchor and radio personality

HMS Hood
  • Mr. John A Giffen (b. 1921), English Stoker 2nd Class serving for the Royal Navy from Fulham, London, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [5]

  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^
  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. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from on Facebook
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