Dunford is an Anglo-Saxon surname which is habitational from either Dunford Bridge, a hamlet near Penistone, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, or from Dunford House in Methley, also in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The place near Penistone is derived from the river Don (an ancient British name which may have meant "river"), and the Olde English pre 7th Century "ford", a ford; hence, "ford on the river Don", while the place in Methley is derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "dunn", from the Olde English "dunn", dark-coloured (usually given as a nickname for a man with dark hair or a swarthy complexion), and the Olde English "ford", as before; hence, "Dunn's ford". However, sometimes it is difficult to be precise about whether a surname is derived from an identifying topographic phrase such as "(at) the ford on the river Don", or from an established placename, as in this case Dunford. Therefore Dunford may be topographical; having the same derivation as the placenames. Andrew Dunford married Elizabeth Scotte on April 29th 1617, at Thornhill, Yorkshire. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is a red shield with a gold crescent, and a silver bend. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Dunfurth, which was dated March 23rd 1581, christened at Thornhill by Dewsbury, Yorkshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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