This ancient name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is one of the earliest topographical surnames still in existence. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "ford", ford, a shallow place in a river of water where men and animals could wade across. The term was used as a topographical name for someone who lived near a ford. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. In some cases the modern surname may be locational in origin, deriving from one of the many places named with the Olde English "ford", such as those in Herefordshire, Northumberland, Shropshire, Somerset and Sussex. 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. In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Ford, Forde, Foord, Foard and Forth. Early settlers in the New World Colonies were John Forth, who was recorded as "Living" in Virginia on February 16th 1623, and George Forth, aged 27 yrs., who embarked from the Port of London on the "Globe", bound for Virginia in August 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Bruman de la Forda, which was dated 1066, in the "Book of Winton", Hampshire (included in the Domesday Book), during the reign of King William 1, known as "William the Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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