This interesting and long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from any of the places so called in the counties of Gloucestershire, Devonshire, Herefordshire and West Yorkshire. The placenames were first recorded as either "Clifort" or "Cliford" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and all share the same meaning and derivation, which is "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, such as this, were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually in search of work, and were thereafter 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, and founded 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. Thomas Clifforth married Mary Hill at St. Nicholas', Deptford, on October 26th 1835. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is described thus: "Red a chevron between three talbots' heads erased gold, the Crest being a talbot's head erased red eared gold". 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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