Olforthay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
Olforthay is a name of ancient Anglo-Saxon origin and comes from the family once having lived in Holford, a place-name found in Somerset and Sussex. The place-name is derived from the Old English elements hol, which means hollow or valley, and ford, a shallow place where a river may be crossed by wading. Fords were very important in medieval England, as bridges were very expensive to both build and maintain. Any place where there was a ford across a river was bound to become a settlement of one sort or another, especially if it was a long way to the next ford up or down the river. In this particular case, the place-name Holford means "ford across the river in a valley."
Early Origins of the Olforthay family
The surname Olforthay was first found in West Somerset in the hundred of Whitley at Holford, a village and civil parish that dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086 where it was listed as Holeforde. The place name literally meant "hollow ford, ford in a hollow," from the Old English words hol + ford.  The River Holford which runs through the village flows to the sea at Kilve.
Early History of the Olforthay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Olforthay research. Another 202 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1587, 1717, 1541 and 1588 are included under the topic Early Olforthay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Olforthay Spelling Variations
Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Olforthay family name include Holford, Holfords and others.
Early Notables of the Olforthay family (pre 1700)
Notables of this surname at this time include: Lady Elizabeth Holford, who in 1717, gave £500 in support of a school in Stanton St. John in Oxfordshire.  Blessed Thomas...
Migration of the Olforthay family
For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, Canada, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Olforthay surname or a spelling variation of the name include: Elizabeth Holford arrived in Annapolis, Maryland in 1729; Eleanor Holford settled in New England in 1706; Thomas Holford settled in Maryland in 1725.