Show ContentsGoff History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Goff is derived from the Welsh word "coch," which means "red." Goff was originally a nickname for a ruddy or red-complexioned person, which later became a hereditary surname. [1]

Iolo Goch or the Red (fl. 1328-1405), a Welsh bard, whose real name is said to be Edward Llwyd, was Lord of Llechryd and resided at Coed Pantwn in Denbighshire. [2]

Early Origins of the Goff family

The surname Goff was first found in Radnorshire (Welsh: Sir Faesyfed), a former historic county of mid-Wales, anciently part of the kingdom of Powys.

However, while the name is a well known Welsh name, we must look to England to find some of the first records in early rolls. Robert Gogh was listed in the Assize Rolls of Cheshire in 1287 and later in the Subsidy Rolls for Somerset. [3]

Again in Somerset, Robert Gogh was listed in the rolls there, 1 Edward III (during the first year of King Edward III's reign.) [4]

It was not until 1576, that we find Thomas Goughe listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Wales. [3]

Early History of the Goff family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Goff research. Another 110 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1528, 1556, 1570, 1559, 1560, 1591, 1629, 1605, 1681, 1605, 1591, 1629, 1591, 1679, 1642, 1660, 1660, 1610, 1661 and are included under the topic Early Goff History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Goff Spelling Variations

There are relatively few surnames native to Wales, but they have an inordinately large number of spelling variations. Early variations of Welsh surnames can be explained by the fact that very few people in the early Middle Ages were literate. Priests and the few other literate people were responsible for recording names in official documents. And because most people could not specific how to properly record their names it was up to the individual recorder of that time to determine how a spoken name should be recorded. Variations due to the imprecise or improper recording of a name continued later in history when names originally composed in the Brythonic Celtic, language of Wales, known by natives as Cymraeg, were transliterated into English. Welsh names that were documented in English often changed dramatically since the native language of Wales, which was highly inflected, did not copy well. Occasionally, however, spelling variations were carried out according to an individual's specific design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations could be indicated by minor variations. The spelling variations of the name Goff have included Gough, Goff, Gof, Goffe and others.

Early Notables of the Goff family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was Sir Matthew Gough knighted in the French wars. John Gough, Gowghe, Gowgh, Gouge (fl. 1528-1556), was an early English printer, stationer, and translator, first lived in Cheapside [London], "next to Paul's Gate, possibly in the house of John Rastell; he afterwards moved into Lombard Street, using the sign of the mermaid in both places. " [2] John Gough (fl. 1570), was an English divine, "who seems not to have been of any university, was ordained deacon by Grindal, bishop of London, 14 Jan. 1559-1560. " [2] Thomas Goffe (1591-1629) was a Jacobean dramatist born...
Another 194 words (14 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Goff Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Goff Ranking

In the United States, the name Goff is the 946th most popular surname with an estimated 32,331 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Goff family to Ireland

Some of the Goff family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 58 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 Goff migration to the United States +

During the latter half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the people of Wales journeyed to North America to find a new life. They made major contributions to the arts, industry and commerce of both Canada and the United States, and added a rich cultural heritage to their newly adopted societies. A look at the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Goff:

Goff Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Anne Goff, who settled in Virginia in 1736
Goff Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Goff, who arrived in America in 1811 [6]
  • John Goff, aged 43, who arrived in Maine in 1812 [6]
  • William Commins Goff, aged 29, who arrived in Ohio in 1812 [6]
  • Charles W Goff, who arrived in New York in 1815 [6]
  • John Goff, who settled in Savannah in 1822
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Goff migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Goff Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • D. Goff, aged 20, a surgeon, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Augusta" from Liverpool, England

Australia Goff migration to Australia +

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

Goff Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Peter Goff, English convict who was convicted in Portsmouth, England for life, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 16th January 1816, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [7]
  • James Goff, English convict from Surrey, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Mr. Charles Goff, English convict who was convicted in Essex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Fairlie" on 14th October 1833, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Mr. James Goff, (b. 1822), aged 18, Irish shoe maker who was convicted in Ireland, Dublin City for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Egyptian" on 19th August 1840, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1865 [10]
  • Robert Goff, aged 43, a farm labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Sumner"
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Goff migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Goff Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Owen Goff, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Berar" in 1865
  • John Goff, aged 27, a farm labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rodney" in 1875

West Indies Goff 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. [11]
Goff Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mr. William Goff, aged 30 who arrived in St. Kitts (St Christopher) aboard the ship "Amity" in 1635 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Goff (post 1700) +

  • Robert Lamar Goff (b. 1965), American NFL football player who played from 1988 to 1996
  • Bruce Alonzo Goff (1904-1982), American architect
  • Nathan Goff Jr. (1843-1920), American politician, member of Congress from West Virginia
  • Stan Goff (b. 1951), American writer and activist
  • Robert Lionel Archibald Goff KT, PC, FBA (1926-2016), Baron Goff of Chieveley, British jurist, Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary (1996-1998), Lord of Appeal in Ordinary (1986-1998)
  • Sir Park Goff KC (1871-1939), 1st Baronet, English barrister and politician, Member of Parliament for Cleveland (1918-1923) and (1924-1929) and for Chatham (1931-1935), Registrar of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor (1908-1911)
  • Philip Bruce Goff (b. 1953), New Zealand politician, 32nd Leader of the Opposition (2008-2011), 35th Minister of Defence (2005-2008)
  • John Goff Ballentine (1825-1915), American politician, Member of the United States House of Representatives (1883-1887)
  • Thomas Goff Lupton (1791-1873), English mezzotint engraver
  • Louise Goff Reece (1898-1970), American Republican politician, U.S. Representative from Tennessee 1st District, 1961-63; Member of Republican National Committee from Tennessee, 1967 [12]

Empress of Ireland
  • Miss Agnes Goff (1887-1914), Canadian Third Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [13]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Jack Goff (b. 1923), English Boy 1st Class serving for the Royal Navy from Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the HMS Hood sinking [14]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. George Henry Goff, British Petty Officer, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales (1941) and survived the sinking [15]
Monongah Mine
  • Mr. Ignat Goff (b. 1879), "Ingot", Polish coal miner who was in mine 6 at the Monongah mine on 6th December 1907 when it exploded and collapsed; he died [16]
  • Mr. John Goff (b. 1884), Slavic coal miner who was in mine 8 at the Monongah mine on 6th December 1907 when it exploded and collapsed; he died [16]
  • Mr. Paul Goff (b. 1881), Slavic coal miner who was in mine 8 at the Monongah mine on 6th December 1907 when it exploded and collapsed; he died [16]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Wiley Coy Goff, American Seaman Second Class from Oklahoma, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [17]

Suggested Readings for the name Goff +

  • Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families by J. Anthony Lukas.
  • The History and Genealogy of the Nathan P. Goff Family of Randolph County, West Virginia, Delaware County, Indiana and Madison County, Iowa by Joseph PhilipBarnes.

  1. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. 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. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from
  8. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 190 passengers. Retrieved from
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 21st September 2022).
  10. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th January 2022). Retrieved from
  12. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 8) . Retrieved from
  13. Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 16) . Retrieved from
  14. 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
  15. HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from
  16. Monongah Mining Disaster retrieved on 8th August 2021. (Retrieved from
  17. Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from on Facebook