This very unusual surname is Olde English, and apparently derives from a 'lost' hamlet in Devon. The derivation is from the Norse-Viking 'stein' meaning 'stony' and 'forda' - a shallow crossing place. The 8th century Vikings penetrated up both the Tamar and Dart rivers, however as all early recordings seem to be from the villages of Ugborough and Dittisham on the Dart, it would seem that the original place was on that river. The surname, perhaps not surprisingly, is found in many spellings forms, and often with the well known West Country dialectal variant of a 'v' replacing the 'f' as in Robtus Stentavord. On December 27th 1549, Robtus was christened at Ugborough. He was the son of Thomas Stentaforde (!) and Marger Gibbe as shown below. A slightly later recording was that of William Stentiford who was christened at Coldridge, Devon on June 8th 1763, whilst on December 3rd 1775 John Stentiford and his wife Mary were recorded at St Andrews Church, Holborn, London. They had five children, John, Robert, Temperance, William, and George, all christened at the same church. On January 25th 1830, Elizabeth Stenteford married Francis Drake, at St Mary's Newington. Unfortunately not 'The' Francis Drake of Devon, he had been dead for about three hundred years! The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Stentaforde, which was dated February 3rd 1548, who married Marger Gibbe, at Ugborough, Devon, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as 'The boy king', 1547 - 1554. 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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