Gyffith History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Gyffith is a name whose history on English soil dates back to the wave of migration that followed the Norman Conquest of England of 1066. The Gyffith family 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]

"Three brothers of the name Giffard, Walter, Berenger, and Osberne entered in Domesday Book as holding English baronies from the time of the Conquest. Walter, the eldest, received as many as 107 manors in different counties, had his largest domain in Buckinghamshire, and was Earl of that county; Berenger held the barony of Fonthill, called from him Fonthill-Giffard, in Wiltshire; and Osberne that of Brimsfield in Gloucestershire." [3]

Early Origins of the Gyffith family

The surname Gyffith 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." [4]

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." [4]

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. [5]

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." [5]

Early History of the Gyffith family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gyffith 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 Gyffith History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gyffith 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 Gyffith 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 Gyffith Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Gyffith family to Ireland

Some of the Gyffith 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 Gyffith 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 Gyffith or a variant listed above:

Gyffith Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Ambrose Gyffith, who arrived in Virginia in 1619 [6]
  • Joyse Gyffith, who landed in Virginia in 1624 [6]


The Gyffith 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.


  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. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 2 of 3
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  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)


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