This is an interesting name of English origin and is locational from a place so called in Devon and a place called Dunsforth in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The derivation is the same for both places, the Olde English pre 7th Century 'Dunn', a personal name usually given to of dark complexion, and 'ford', a ford. The placename in Devon is recorded as early as the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Dunesford' and in the Book of Fees of 1237 as 'Dunisford'. In the Middle Ages it became increasingly popular for people to migrate from their birth place and they would often adopt that name as a means of identification. Two early recordings of christenings in Devon are of one Jennie Dunsford at Clyst Hydon on 22th January 1586, and John Dunsford at Uffculme on 8th November 1588. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Dunnysford, which was dated 1273, Hundred Rolls, Buckinghamshire, during the reign of King Edward I, 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.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017