Show ContentsGiffin History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname Giffin 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 Giffin 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 Giffin family

The surname Giffin 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 Giffin family

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

Giffin 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 Giffin family (pre 1700)

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

Giffin Ranking

In the United States, the name Giffin is the 8,392nd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [3]

Ireland Migration of the Giffin family to Ireland

Some of the Giffin 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 Giffin migration to the United States +

In the immigration and passenger lists were a number of people bearing the name Giffin

Giffin Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Hannah Giffin, who settled in Pennsylvania in 1771
Giffin Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Giffin, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815 [4]
  • John Giffin, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1840
  • O F Giffin, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1860 [4]
  • Maggie Giffin, aged 70, who immigrated to the United States, in 1894
  • Elliot M. Giffin, aged 39, who immigrated to America, in 1897
Giffin Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Josselyn Giffin, aged 30, who settled in America, in 1905
  • Mrs. William M. Giffin, aged 54, who immigrated to the United States, in 1907
  • John Wm. Giffin, aged 32, who immigrated to the United States from Helen's Bay, Ireland, in 1908
  • Anna M. Giffin, aged 34, who settled in America, in 1909
  • Charles Bernard Giffin, who landed in America, in 1910
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Giffin migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Giffin Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Wesley Giffin, aged 57, who arrived at Sarnia Ont., Canada, in 1924

Australia Giffin migration to Australia +

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

Giffin Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Joseph Giffin, British Convict who was convicted in Hertford, Hertfordshire, England for life , transported aboard the "Commodore Hayes" in April 1823, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Giffin (post 1700) +

  • Gordon D. Giffin (b. 1949), the thirty-fourth Ambassador of the United States to Canada
  • Merritt Hayward Giffin (1887-1911), American silver medalist discus thrower at the 1908 Summer Olympics
  • Emily Giffin (b. 1972), American author
  • Noah Giffin (b. 1987), Canadian musician and engineer
  • Simon Osborn Giffin (1870-1935), Canadian merchant and political figure in Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Lee Giffin (b. 1967), Canadian retired NHL ice hockey player
  • Ronald Chapman "Ron" Giffin (b. 1942), Canadian lawyer and former politician in Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Michael Giffin (b. 1984), Canadian CFL football running back for the Montreal Alouettes
  • David Giffin (b. 1973), Australian former vice-captain of the Wallabies in rugby union
  • Philip Giffin, Composer

  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. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  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. Convict Records of Australia. Retrieved 4th March 2021 from on Facebook