This is an English locational surname from either of the two villages of Bayford in the counties of Hertfordshire and Somerset. The first known recording of the place name is in 1243 when in the assize court rolls for Somerset "Boyford" is recorded as being a hamlet. The village name and subsequent surname is a compound with the prefix element being an Old English, pre 7th century baptismal name "Boia", which means literally "boy", plus ford, a shallow river crossing. The date of the change of spelling from Boyford is obscure, but it probably happened in 15th century London. 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 Elizabeth Bayford, christened at St Mary Whitechapel, London, on July 10th 1670, whilst one hundred and twenty years earlier, Annis Bayford was christened at Newgate, London, on November 30th 1551 in the reign of King Edward V1 (1547 - 1554).
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