- This surname of considerable antiquity, was introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It has two possible origins. The first is from the early Germanic personal name "Gebhardt", composed of the elements "geb", meaning gift and "-hard", brave, hardy or strong. The popularity of St. Gebhardt, the bishop of Constance at the end of the 10th Century, contributed to the continued use of the given name into the Middle Ages. The second possible origin is from the Old French word "Giffard", used as a nickname for someone thought to be chubby-cheeked. This is also a derivative from the German in this case "giffel", meaning cheek. The modern surname can be found as Giffard, Gifford, Gyford, Gyfford, Jefferd and Jefford. Edward Gifford was an early emigrant to the New World, leaving London on the ship "Safety" in August 1635, bound for Virginia. A coat of arms granted to the family has the blazon of on a red field, three lion's passant argent in pale. The crest being a leopards face ore breathing fire gules. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Gyfard. This was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book for Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King William 1st, 1066 - 1087. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.