Gyfith History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
Gyfith is one of the many new names that came to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Gyfith 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 Gyfith family
The surname Gyfith 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 Gyfith family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gyfith 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 Gyfith History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Gyfith Spelling Variations
Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Gifford, Giffard, Geffard, Gyfford, Gifferd, Geffard, Gifferd, Gyffard, Gyfferd, Gyford, Giford, Givard, Givord, Giverd and many more.
Early Notables of the Gyfith 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...
Migration of the Gyfith family to Ireland
Some of the Gyfith 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 Gyfith family
Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Gyfith name or one of its variants: 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.