This is a locational surname whose ancestors were of some considerable nobility. It derives from the town of Hungerford, although the family seat is Farley Castle, Somerset. The town name is first recorded in the year 1101 in the reign of King John as 'Hungreford', and Ekwall in his famous 'Dictionary of English Place Names' states that the meaning is 'the ford where people had to starve'. In the seventy years since Ekwall first produced his work, doubt has been cast on many of his assumptions, and this may well be one.A more logical meaning would be 'the bad ford', as the word 'hungr' in Olde English was used in a variety of modes to indicate poor soil, or difficult land. Either way the name is typical of English locational surnames, in that it was a name given either to the lords of the manor, or to people who left Hungerford and moved elsewhere, particularly London. When they settled in their new home, their identification would be established by giving them as their surname, the name of their original home. Early examples of the surname recording include Walter Hungerford, (Baron Hungerford), a member of Parliament in 1536, James Hongerforde, a witness at St Margarets, Westminster, on July 31st 1547, and Edward Hungerford, christened at St Christopher Le Stocks, London, on March 28th 1584. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Sir Walter de Hungerford, which was dated 1356, the lord of the manor of Farley, Somerset, during the reign of King Edward 111, known as 'the father of the English navy', 1327 - 1377. 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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