Gyffithay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
Gyffithay is a name of ancient Norman origin. It arrived in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Gyffithay family 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." 
"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." 
"When William of Normandy desired to invade England, many of his nobles held cautiously back from proffering aid, being wearied and impoverished by the continued struggles in which the Duke had been engaged since his father's death. But a few staunch adherents, amongst the foremost of whom were Walter de Gyffarde, Count of Longueville, and Osborne, his brother, the sons of Osborne de Bolebec, coming nobly forward with offers of men, ships, &c., the laggards were thereby warmed to the undertaking, and the expedition was carried out." 
Early Origins of the Gyffithay family
The surname Gyffithay 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. 
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." 
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. 
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." 
Early History of the Gyffithay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gyffithay 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 Gyffithay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Gyffithay Spelling Variations
It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Gyffithay are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Gyffithay include Gifford, Giffard, Geffard, Gyfford, Gifferd, Geffard, Gifferd, Gyffard, Gyfferd, Gyford, Giford, Givard, Givord, Giverd and many more.
Early Notables of the Gyffithay 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 Gyffithay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Gyffithay family to Ireland
Some of the Gyffithay 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.
Migration of the Gyffithay family
Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Gyffithay, or a variant listed above: Francis Gifford, who settled in Virginia in 1626; Edward Gifford, who landed in Virginia in 1635; John Gifford, who made his home in Boston in 1673; Samuel Gifford, who settled in Barbados, with his wife, two children, and servants in 1680.
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.
- Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
- Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- 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
- Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
- Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print