Recorded in the spellings of Caford, Cafford and Cayford, this is an English medieval locational surname. It originates from a place called 'Kari's forda' or similar, meanuing the shallow crossing place of Kari, the latter being a Danish-Viking personal name of the pre 8th century. However no such placename is recorded in any of the existing gazetters or in any of the known surname spellings. This suggests that 'Kari's forda' is one of the 'lost' medieval villages, which have given rise to an estimated five thousand British and Irish surnames. Lost villages came about mainly through either the long term effects of the great plagues which swept through Europe in the Middle Ages, or more usually changes in farming practice from arable to pastoral, and specifically sheep farming, where far fewer workers were required. When this occured, the workers had no choice but to leave their homes and move elsewhere, taking as their surnames the name of their former village. Spelling being at best erratic and dialects very thick, lead to the development of variant spellings. In this case early examples of the surname taken from surviving church registers of the post medieval period include: Annys Caford, who married Thomas Lyllyngton at St Pancras Old Church in the city of London on September 3rd 1560, and less than a year Christian Cayford, who married Hugh Kyrke at St Gregory,s by St Pauls, on May 3rd 1561, also in the city of London.
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