Recorded as Baford, Bafford, Beaford, Bayford, Boyford, Byford, and possibly others, this is an English surname. It is location from either of the two villages called Bayford in the counties of Hertfordshire and Somerset, or the hamlet of Beaford in Devonshire, or from a now "lost" medieval place called Bafford in the parish of Charlton Kings, Gloucestershire. Bayford is first recorded as a place name in the assize court rolls for Somerset in 1243 but as Boyford. The village name and subsequent surname has the prefix element of "Boia", which means literally "boy", was used as a name of endearment, plus ford, a shallow river crossing. The date of the change of spelling from Boyford to Bayford is not known. Curiously the other place names probably have the same meaning or "by the ford". Locational surnames were given either to the original lord of the manor and his descendants, or more often to people who moved away from the area. It was the custom then, and it often remains so today, to call people as a nickname, by the name of the place or region, or even country, from whence they came. These nicknames often "stuck" and in time became the person's surnames. Local dialects being "thick" and spelling at best problematical, the spellings often changed, sometimes dramatically, although not in this case. Early examples of the surname recording taken from the surviving church registers of the late medieval period include Annis Byford christened at Newgate, city of London, on November 30th 1551, Jana Bafford who married William Crowe at English Bicknor, Gloucestershire, on August 26th 1605, and Elizabeth Bayford, christened at St Mary Whitechapel, city of London, on July 10th 1670.
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