This is an English locational surname of Anglo-Saxon origin, from any of the places so called in the counties of Gloucestershire, Devonshire, Herefordshire and West Yorkshire. The placenames are first recorded as either "Clifort" or "Cliford" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and all share the same meaning and derivation. The name means "the ford at the cliff or slope", derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "clif", a slope, cliff or steep bank, with "ford", a ford. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The Walter de Clifford recorded below adopted his name from Clifford Castle near Hay-on-Wye, acquired through marriage to a family that have held the titles of the barony of Westmoreland and the Earldom of Cumberland. The hereditary title of Lord Clifford of Chudleigh was given to Thomas Clifford (1630 - 1673), a leading minster of Charles 11. Olliver Clifford, aged 18 yrs., was an early settler in Virginia, having embarked from London aboard the "Primrose" in July 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter de Clifford, which was dated 1182, in the "Pipe Rolls of Warwickshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 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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