This most interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an English locational name from any of the places called Stratford, for example in Bedfordshire which was recorded as "Stretford" in 1312 in the "Calendar of Inquisitions". The placenames all derive from the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "straet", an old Roman road and "ford", a ford, shallow river crossing. All the Stratfords are on Roman roads, hence the meaning is, "a ford by which a Roman road crossed a river". Strafford is a variant of this English locational surname. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname first appears in the early 13th Century, while the original name origin first appears much earlier in the Domesday Book of 1086, as Robert de Stratford, recorded in Suffolk. Sir Thomas Wentworth (1593 - 1641) was the first Earl of Strafford in 1640 and was a notable statesman in his time. Thomas Strafford, one of the early settlers in the New World, was buried in the parish of St. Michael, in the Barbadoes, on August 28th 1679. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Athelstan de Straford, which was dated 1210, in the "Curia Rolls of Berkshire", 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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