Show ContentsHandford History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the bearers of the Handford family name are thought have lived in ancient Anglo-Saxon England. They were first found in the township of Handforth, in the parish of Cheadle in the county of Cheshire.

Early Origins of the Handford family

The surname Handford was first found in Cheshire at Handforth. "The manor, as early as the reign of Henry III., was in the family of Handford, from whom, with the manor of Bosden, it passed to the Breretons, and subsequently to the Booths." [1]

Handford, or Hanford is a parish in the union of Stone, in the hundred of Pirehill in Staffordshire. [1]

Of the two, we know that Handforth, Cheshire dates back to the 12th century when it was first known as Haneford and it literally meant "ford frequented by cocks (wild birds)" or "ford at the stones (used as markers)" from the Old English words "hanna" + "ford." [2]

As far as early records of the family, we found John de Honford (Handforth) was first listed in Earwaker's History East Cheshire in 1370. The same sources notes Thomas de Honford was listed there in 1398. [3]

Handforth Hall is a former manor house in Handforth, Cheshire dating back to 1562 having been built for Sir Urian Brereton.

Early History of the Handford family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Handford research. Another 138 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1230, 1325, 1565, 1598, 1635, 1638 and 1784 are included under the topic Early Handford History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Handford Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Handford include Handford, Hanford, Handforth and others.

Early Notables of the Handford family

Notables of the family at this time include

  • Handford of Cheshire

United States Handford migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Handford or a variant listed above:

Handford Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Handford, who settled in Scituate in Massachusetts in 1645 and became a Freeman of that colony
  • Thomas Handford, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1650 [4]
  • Tobias Handford, who landed in Virginia in 1676 [4]
Handford Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Jane, Martha and Richard Handford, who settled in New England in 1754

Australia Handford migration to Australia +

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

Handford Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Handford, English convict who was convicted in Plymouth, Devon, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Bengal Merchant" on 13th March 1828, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [5]
  • Mr. John Handford, English convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for life, transported aboard the "Claudine" on 19th August 1829, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Charles Handford, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Simlah" in 1849 [7]
  • James Handford, aged 27, a gardener, who arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Blundell"

Contemporary Notables of the name Handford (post 1700) +

  • Horace E. Handford, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Massachusetts, 1944 [8]
  • Philip Michael "Phil" Handford (b. 1964), English former professional association football player
  • Frank Handford (b. 1884), English rugby union international player who played in the early 1900s
  • Peter Handford (1919-2007), English location sound recordist
  • George Clive Handford CMG (b. 1937), British clergyman, the fourth Anglican Bishop in Cyprus and the Gulf
  • Martin Handford (b. 1956), British children's book writer and illustrator who gained worldwide fame in the early 1990s with his "Where's Wally?" creation, known as "Where's Waldo" in the USA and Canada
  • Paul Handford Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology at The University of Western Ontario

HMS Halsted
  • Mr. Hugh James Handford, British Royal Navy lieutenant was stationed aboard the "HMS Halsted" when it was struck by torpedo by Jaguar and Mowe of the Cherbourg coast on 11th June 1944, he did not survive

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. 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)
  5. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th October 2020). Retrieved from
  6. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 18th February 2021). Retrieved from
  7. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The SIMLAH 1849. Retrieved from
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 9) . Retrieved from on Facebook