Goforth History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 brought much change to the island nation, including many immigrants with new names. Among these immigrants were the ancestors of the Goforth family, who 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]

Early Origins of the Goforth family

The surname Goforth 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]

Godfrey Giffard (1235?-1302), was Chancellor of England and Bishop of Worcester, the son of Hugh Giffard of Boyton in Wiltshire, a royal justice. He was born about 1235 (Calendarium Genealogicum, p. 281). He was the younger brother of Walter Giffard. When his brother was Bishop of Bath and Wells, he became Canon of Wells. [4]

John Giffard Lord Gifford of Bromsfield (1232-1299), was a "soldier and Baron in the reigns of Henry III and Edward I, descended from Osbern Giffard, a Norman noble, who under William I acquired various estates, of which Bromsfield (now Brimpsfield) in Gloucestershire and Sherrington in Wiltshire were the chief. From Osbern was descended Richard, one of the justices appointed at Northampton in 1176, whose grandson, Elias, was one of the barons who fought against King John." [4]

Early History of the Goforth family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Goforth research. Another 131 words (9 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 Goforth History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Goforth Spelling Variations

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Gifford, Giffard, Geffard, Gyfford, Gifferd, Geffard, Gifferd, Gyffard, Gyfferd, Gyford, Giford, Givard, Givord, Giverd and many more.

Early Notables of the Goforth family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir Alexander Gifford; George Gifford (by 1496-1557) an English politician, Member of Parliament for Buckingham in 1536 and Buckinghamshire in April 1554; George Gifford (died 1613), English politician, Member of Parliament for Morpeth and Cricklade; Gabriel Gifford (1554-1629), Catholic Archbishop of Reims; Gilbert Gifford (1560-1590), English double agent who...
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Goforth Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Goforth family to Ireland

Some of the Goforth family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Goforth migration to the United States +

Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Goforth or a variant listed above:

Goforth Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Goforth, who landed in New Jersey in 1677 [5]
Goforth Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Aaron Goforth, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1711-1712 [5]
  • Alice Goforth, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1714-1715 [5]
Goforth Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Isabella Goforth, aged 6, who landed in America, in 1895
  • Mary Jane Goforth, aged 1, who immigrated to the United States, in 1895
  • A. Goforth, aged 64, who immigrated to the United States, in 1896
Goforth Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Ella C. Goforth, aged 47, who immigrated to the United States, in 1909
  • Caroline Goforth, aged 27, who immigrated to New York, in 1922

Canada Goforth migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Goforth Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Jonathan Goforth, aged 50, who settled in Canada, in 1909
  • William Francis Goforth, aged 33, who settled in Toronto, Canada, in 1912
  • W. Frank Goforth, aged 35, who immigrated to Toronto, Canada, in 1914
  • Marie Goforth, aged 34, who immigrated to Toronto, Canada, in 1920

Contemporary Notables of the name Goforth (post 1700) +

  • David Paul Goforth (b. 1988), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played for the Milwaukee Brewers from 2015 through 2017
  • Randall Jordan Goforth (b. 1994), American football cornerback
  • William "Judge" or "Major" Goforth (1731-1807), American politician, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New York County Member of the New York State Assembly (1784-1786) [6]
  • William Goforth (1766-1817), American politician and physician, Ohio Presidential elector for Thomas Jefferson in 1804 [6]
  • Susan Goforth, American actress and producer, co-founder of Pendragon Pictures
  • Daniel Bruce Goforth, former Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly
  • W. A. Goforth, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Oklahoma, 1916 [6]
  • Steven Goforth, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Michigan State House of Representatives 105th District, 1978 [6]
  • Ray A. Goforth, American Democrat politician, Chair of Fayette County Democratic Party, 1972-75 [6]
  • Hubert Lee Goforth (b. 1915), American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Illinois, 1948, 1964 (alternate) [6]
  • ... (Another 6 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Goforth 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: Malo mori quam foedari
Motto Translation: I would rather die than be disgraced.


Suggested Readings for the name Goforth +

  • 3722 The Goforth Genealogy: A History of the Descendants of George Goforth of Knedlington, England Together with Some Account of Other Families of the Name by George Tuttle Goforth.

  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.
  4. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 7) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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