This is a truly ancient locational surname. It apparently originates from the villages of Alford in Lincolnshire, Surrey and Somerset or possibly from some now 'lost' medieval site of the same spelling. The Lincolnshire village name is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as commissioned by William the Conqueror, in the spelling of 'Alforde'. This, according to the Dictionary of English Place Names means the 'ford by the temple', the latter being a place of pagan worship. A secondary possible meaning given is the 'ford by the alder trees', and logically this would seem a more likely explanation. Curiously the meaning for the Somerset village is given as 'the ford of Ealdgyp', which translates as the 'ford of the old woman!' Early examples of the surname recording include John Alforde of Somerset in the historic rolls known as 'Kirby's Quest' for the year 1273, whilst John de Aldeforde is recorded in the Hundred Rolls of that county for the same year. In 1634 Thomas Alford of Wiltshire married Benedicata Berrisford at St Georges Chapel, Hanover Square, London, whilst in 1763, Betty Alford married John Ruston at the same church. The ancient arms of Alford has the blazon of a red field, charged with a silver cross moline. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Aldeforde, which was dated 1184, in the Annales Cestrienses Rolls of Lancashire and Cheshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as 'the church builder', 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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