This interesting surname is of English locational origin from any of the various places called Radford, for example in Devon, Nottingham, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. In most cases the placename derives from the Old English pre 7th Century "read" meaning red plus "ford" a ford, (some of the places state that the soil is red in or near the ford). However, it is also possible that in some cases the first element may be the Old English "rad" riding, with the meaning of a ford that can be crossed by horseback.The surname is first found in the early 13th Century, (see below). One, Walter de Redford, appears in the Pipe Rolls of Berkshire (1230) and Hugo de Retford is noted in the Hundred Rolls of Nottinghamshire (1275). A famous namebearer being John Redford, a musician, poet and dramatist, who flourished in 1535. He composed instrumental works of great importance in musical history, twenty three of which are in the famous manuscript written Thomas Mulliner. One of the earliest settlers in the New World was John Redford, aged 16, who left London, aboard the "Dorst", bound for Bermuda, in September 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Radeford, which was dated 1209, Pipe Rolls of Nottinghamshire, during the reign of King John, known as Lackland, 1199 - 1216. 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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