Show ContentsShafto History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Shafto was brought to England in the wave of migration that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Shafto family lived in Northumberland, at Shafto Crag, from whence their name is derived.

Early Origins of the Shafto family

The surname Shafto was first found in Northumberland at either Shafto East or Shafto West. Both townships have remained rather small over the years with populations less than 50 people but both have considerable antiquity, being mentioned in records of the 13th century. In 1378, Matthew Bolton, vicar of Newcastle, and others, were feoffees for founding a chantry in the "chapel of Shafthowe." The Shaftos were traditional landowners of the area with the Aynsleys, and the Vaughans. [1]

Early History of the Shafto family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shafto research. Another 121 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1100, 1110 and 1650 are included under the topic Early Shafto History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Shafto Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Shafto, Shaftan, Shaftoe, Shaftowe, Shaftow and others.

Early Notables of the Shafto family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • Lord Shaftow

Migration of the Shafto family

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World 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 stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Shafto or a variant listed above: John Shaftoe settled in Virginia in 1716; Edward Shaftoe settled in Virginia in 1730.

Contemporary Notables of the name Shafto (post 1700) +

  • Robert Shafto, 18th Century British Member of Parliament
  • Lieut. Robert Shafto Hedley (1857-1884), English captain of the Royal Engineers team that reached the final of the FA Cup in 1878
  • Sir Robert Shafto Adair (1862-1949), 5th Baronet of Flixton Hall, English peer
  • Sir Robert Shafto Adair (1786-1869), 1st Baronet of Flixton Hall, English peer
  • Shafto Craster, English politician and landowner, High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1803

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print. on Facebook