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.  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." 
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.
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." 
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
Gifford Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
Gifford Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
Gifford Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
Gifford Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
Gifford Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th 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 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.