The International Genealogical Index suggests that this surname is a transposition of the surname 'Barefoot', but this is clearly not correct. Villages called 'Barford' are found in the counties of Dorset, Bedford, Norfolk, Wiltshire, Oxford, and Northampton, and the surname definitely derives from one or all these ancient places. The origination is from the elements 'baer-forda' which it has been claimed means 'barley ford', or 'the bears fords', but these are almost certainly wrong. The meaning must be in most cases 'the fenced ford', the river being 'barred' to prevent cattle straying, and to keep them out of deep water. The village names first appear in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles about the year 900 a.d., although the surname is much later. In fact it is a mystery as to when the name was first recorded, although an early coat of arms was granted believed to be circa 1460. This has the blazon of a red field, a fretty of six engrailed ermine. Examples of the name recording include John Barfford, who married Zakerie Smyth, at St Margarets, Westminster, on November 3rd, 1611, whilst William Barford (1741 - 1792), was chaplain to the House of Commons in 1769. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Berford, which was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Norfolk, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as 'The hammer of the Scots' 1272 - 1307. 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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