Show ContentsGilford History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Anglo-Saxon name Gilford comes from when the family resided in the village of Guildford, which was in the county of Surrey. The surname was originally derived from the Old English word guilford which denoted the "ford where the marigolds grew." [1]

"This place, of which there is no mention either in the British or the Roman annals, is supposed to be of Saxon origin, and to have derived its name from Guild, a fraternity, and Ford, the passage over a stream. It was held in royal demesne, and, by Speed, is said to have been the residence of some of the Saxon kings." [2]

Early Origins of the Gilford family

The surname Gilford was first found in Kent at Guildford, a county town that dates back to Saxon times c. 880 when it was first listed as Gyldeforda. About 978 or so, it was home to an early English Royal Mint. By the Domesday Book of 1086, [3] the town's name have evolved to Gildeford and was held by William the Conqueror. [1]

Guildford Castle is thought to have been built shortly after the 1066 invasion of England by William the Conqueror. As the castle is not listed in the Domesday Book, it is generally thought to have been built after 1086. Over the years, the castle has gone through many hands and is today held by the Guildford Corporation. It's essentially in ruins, but the gardens are a very popular tourist site. The keep now contains a visitor centre, open between April and September.

One of the earliest records of the family was that of Nicholas Guildford (fl. 1250), poet, who is the supposed author of an English poem, 'The Owl and the Nightingale.' It takes the "form of a contest between the two birds as to their relative merits of voice and singing. Master Nicholas de Guildford is chosen as umpire, and we then learn that his home is at Porteshom (now Portisham) in Dorset. 'The Owl and the Nightingale' is a poem of real merit, smoothly and melodiously written, and is an excellent specimen of the south-western dialect of the thirteenth century." [4]

Early History of the Gilford family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilford research. Another 77 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1500, 1455, 1506, 1489 and 1532 are included under the topic Early Gilford History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gilford Spelling Variations

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, French and other languages became incorporated into English through the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Gilford include Guildford, Guildeford, Guilford, Gilford and others.

Early Notables of the Gilford family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Sir Richard Guildford, KG (c.1455-1506), an English courtier, held an important position in the court of Henry VII, including the office of Master...
Another 28 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gilford Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gilford Ranking

In the United States, the name Gilford is the 11,868th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [5]

United States Gilford migration to the United States +

A great wave of immigration to the New World was the result of the enormous political and religious disarray that struck England at that time. Families left for the New World in extremely large numbers. The long journey was the end of many immigrants and many more arrived sick and starving. Still, those who made it were rewarded with an opportunity far greater than they had known at home in England. These emigrant families went on to make significant contributions to these emerging colonies in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers carried this name or one of its variants:

Gilford Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Rob Gilford, who landed in Virginia in 1651 [6]
  • Peter Gilford, who arrived in Virginia in 1653 [6]
  • William Gilford, who arrived in Maryland in 1667 [6]
  • John Gilford, who arrived in Virginia in 1699 [6]
Gilford Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Conrad Gilford, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County Pennsylvania in 1836 [6]
  • Gilbert Gilford, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [6]

Canada Gilford migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Gilford Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Matthew Gilford U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Gilford (post 1700) +

  • Madeline Lee Gilford (1923-2008), born Madeline Lederman, an American film and stage actress and social activist, widow of Jack Gilford
  • Gloria Gwynne Gilford (b. 1946), American actress
  • Zach Gilford (b. 1982), American Gotham Award nominated actor, best known for his role on the television series Friday Night Lights
  • Jack Gilford (1907-1990), born Jacob Aaron Gellman, an American Daytime Emmy Award winning and Academy Award nominated actor, known for his roles in Cocoon (1985), Catch-22 (1970) and many more
  • Hastings Gilford (1861-1941), English surgeon
  • David Gilford (b. 1965), English professional PGA golfer
  • Gilford E. Easterday, American politician, Mayor of Delaware, Ohio, 1969-71, 1973-77 [8]

The Gilford Motto +

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: Animo et fide
Motto Translation: By courage and faith.

  1. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. 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)
  7. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 7) . Retrieved from on Facebook