This is an English locational surname of great antiquity and early nobility. It is considered that most nameholders do derive from the county town of Staffordshire recorded as "Stadford" in the Domesday Book of 1086. This translates as "the landing-stage by the ford", from the Old English pre 7th Century "Staef" and "forda", a shallow crossing place. The twin villages of East and West Stafford in Dorset have also provided some nameholders. These appear in the Domesday Book simply as "Stanford" and this implies as slightly different meaning of "the stony ford". In a few cases as well the surname can be topographical, and denote a ford marked with staves. The "Dictionary of National Biography" gives no less than twenty one entries to the name of which the earliest is Ralph de Stafford (1299 - 1372) the first Earl of Stafford, who fought in the great battles of Crecy and Poitiers against the French, and having played a prominent part in those victories, he took on the Scots in 1356. Surprisingly he died in his bed. Other recordings are those of Humphrey Stafford, earl of Devon (1439 - 1469). He was not so lucky being executed by Edward 1V, as was Thomas Stafford (1531-1557) who opposed Queen Mary of England (Bloody Mary).Amongst the many interesting recordings was William Stafford, one of the first English settlers in America, being listed in the "Muster of the Inhabitants in Virginia" as resident in "Elizabeth Cittie" in 1625. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Stadford, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book (Staffordshire), during the reign of King William l, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087.
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