Something in the order of fifty percent of all surnames are of locational origin, and of those the vast majority represent variant forms of the original place name. This may be due to a variety of factors, the most common being local dialects combined with rudimentary spelling, even amongst the clerics of the churches. In this case we have a very rare form which seems to derive from the Durham town of Gainford. There is a very faint possibility that some name holders may derive from the Essex hamlet of Gainsford, particularly the first London recording shown below, although we have no absolute proof.What does seem certain is that the name travelled south in the 16th century, probably following an enforced clearance by the land owners. It split eventually into two main spellings Gainford (or Gainforth) and Ganford (or Ganforth). However before establishing these spellings other forms included Ganeforthe, Frances, the son of William Ganeforthe being christened at Bagby in North Yorkshire on November 9th 1587. In fact the name was an early recording in London, Thomas Geynforde being christened at the church of St Martin Orgar, on July 21st 1552, although his parents do not seem to be known. Other examples include Francis Ganford who married Emme Madder at Stamford in Lincolnshire on October 10th 1665, whilst in Bedfordshire the variant form of Ganiford seems to be a 19th century form, a later example being William James Ashman Ganiford, born at Ampthill on November 22nd 1909. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Gainforth, which was dated August 17th 1547, christened at Aldborough Town, Yorkshire, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as 'The boy king', 1547 - 1554. 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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