This long-established name, found chiefly in Yorkshire and the northern counties of England, has two possible interpretations. Firstly, it may be a topographical surname denoting residence by a stony ford, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "stan(en)", stone(s), stony, with "ford", ford, often rendered "forth" in northern dialects. The first recording of the surname, below, is from this source. Secondly, the name may be locational in origin, from any of the places called Stanford in Bedfordshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire; all of these places are named with the Olde English "stan", and "ford", as before, denoting a fording place with a stony bottom, and unusually almost all are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Stanford", the spelling retained to the present day. Examples of the surname from Yorkshire Church Registers include: the marriage of Geffridus Staniforth and Isabella Hanson, at Silkstone, on February 6th 1562, and the christening of Robert, son of William Staniforth, at St. Peter's, Sheffield, on November 16th 1572. The ancient arms of the Staniforth family are blazoned as follows: Argent two bars azure on a canton or (gold), a fess, in chief three mascles sable. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Matild de Staniforthe, which was dated 1297, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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