This interesting surname is of English locational origin either from Wilford in Nottinghamshire, or from Wilford near Woodbridge, Suffolk. The former place was first recorded as Wilesford in the Domesday Book of 1086 and as Wileford in "Manuscripts of Lord Middleton at Wollaton Hall", dated circa 1190, and the latter appeared as Wileforde in the Domesday Book. Both places were so called from the Old English pre 7th Century "wilig", willow plus "ford", a ford; hence, "Willow Ford". Early recordings of the surname include: Henry de Wylleford and Thomas de Wilford, (Nottinghamshire, 1273 and 1292 respectively). On August 28th 1555 Richard Willford and Joan Sympson were married in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, and on December 1st 1585, Elizabeth Wilford married a John Healy in Little Dolby, Leicestershire. A notable namebearer was Sir Thomas Wilford, (1530-1604), Superintendant of admiralty works in Dover harbour, 1591, and governor of Camber Castle, 1593. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger de Willeford, witness, which was dated 1199, The Fine Court Rolls of Suffolk, during the reign of King Richard 1, "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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