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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

The history of the Gifford family name begins after the Norman Conquest of 1066. They lived in Staffordshire with now extinct branches in Devon, Southampton and Buckinghamshire. [1] 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." [2]


The surname Gifford 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. [1] 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." [3] 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." [3]

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. 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 Gifford 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 Gifford History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 211 words (15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gifford Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Gifford 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.


For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Gifford or a variant listed above were:

Gifford Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Francis Gifford, who settled in Virginia in 1626
  • Edward Gifford, who landed in Virginia in 1635
  • Edward Gifford, aged 30, arrived in Virginia in 1635
  • Ursula Gifford, who landed in Maryland in 1638
  • William Gifford, who arrived in America in 1647

Gifford Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Jonathan Gifford, who arrived in Montserrat in 1710
  • Stephen Gifford, who landed in Virginia in 1712
  • Andrew Gifford, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Samuel Gifford, who arrived in New England in 1717
  • Thomas Gifford, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1795

Gifford Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • William Tilfair Gifford, who arrived in New York in 1826
  • A Gifford, aged 45, arrived in Key West, Fla in 1838
  • George Gifford, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1847
  • John James Gifford, who landed in America in 1848
  • D B Gifford, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850

Gifford Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Thomas Gifford, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749

Gifford Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • John Gifford arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "John" in 1840
  • Lawrence Gifford, aged 30, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Charlotte Jane"
  • Joseph Gifford, aged 25, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Caucasian"
  • George Gifford, aged 31, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Ostrich"
  • Eliza Gifford, aged 23, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Ostrich"

Gifford Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • James A. Gifford, aged 18, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Soukar" in 1874
  • Robert John Gifford, aged 14, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Soukar" in 1874
  • Jessie Gifford, aged 21, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Soukar" in 1874


  • Charles Laceille Gifford (1871-1947), American politician, United States Representative from Massachusetts (1922-1933), (1933-1943), (1943-1947)
  • Charles K. Gifford, American former Chairman Emeritus of Bank of America, corporate director of CBS Corporation
  • Dan Gifford, American Academy Award nominated actor and producer, known for Contact (1997), Waco: The Rules of Engagement (1997) and NetForce (1999)
  • Kathie Lee Gifford (b. 1953), born Kathryn Lee Epstein, French-born, American ten-time Daytime Emmy Award nominated actress, known for Today (1952), Kathie Lee's Rock n' Tots Cafe: A Christmas 'Giff' (1995) and Kathie Lee Gifford... Looking for Christmas (1994)
  • Cassidy Erin Gifford (b. 1993), American actress, known for God's Not Dead (2014), The Gallows (2015) and God Is Not Dead! (2013)
  • Francis Newton "Frank" Gifford (1930-2015), former American football player, well known American two-time Primetime Emmy nominated sports commentator
  • Gloria Gifford (1978-2006), American film and TV actress
  • Frances Gifford (1920-1994), American actress
  • Charles Gifford, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1972
  • C. E. Gifford, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Kansas, 1888



  • The Genealogy of the Gifford Family from Massachusetts to Maine by Christine R. Brown.
  • Seitter-Gifford Family by Audrey Seitter-Gifford.

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.


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  1. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  3. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  5. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  6. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  7. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  8. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  9. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  10. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  11. ...

The Gifford Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gifford 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.

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