Recorded as Gayford, Gaiford, Gayforth, and possibly others this is an English surname, but of Olde French origins. It is a variant of the more popular Giffard or Gifford, and was once claimed to be almost exclusively recorded in the northern counties of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. First introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066 as Giffard, it is a good example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These were bestowed in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, and frequently, as in this case, to a person's physical attributes or peculiarities. The name means "chubby-cheeked", and is recorded as a byname in the Domesday Book of 1086 in the Latinized form "Gifardus"; although the first recording of the surname is also found in Domesday Book as Walter Gifhard of Norfolk. The forms with "th" are the result of mistaken etymology from the Olde English "ford", ford, often found in Middle English as "forth". Recordings of the name from surviving church registers includeAnne Gayforde at St James Clerkenwell, city of London on May 2nd 1613, and the marriage of Richard Gayforth and Alice Johnson on January 24th 1635, at Spalding in Lincolnshire. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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