This name is of some antiquity and was introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It has two possible origins, the first of which is as the Anglicized form of the Germanic personal name "Gebhardt", composed of the elements "geb", meaning "gift" and "hard", meaning "brave", "hardy" or "strong". The popularity of St. Gebhardt, Bishop of Constance at the end of the 10th Century, contributed to the continued use of the given name into the Middle Ages. The second possible origin is from the Old French "Giffard", used as a nickname for someone thought to be "chubby-cheeked", a derivative of the Germanic word "giffel", "cheek". The modern surname can be found as Giffard, Gifford, Jefferd and Jefford. One Edward Gifford was an early emigrant to the New World, leaving London on the "Safety" in August 1635, bound for Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Gifard, which was dated 1086, in the "Domesday Book, Cambridgeshire", during the reign of King William 1, known as "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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