This is a locational surname which derives from a place in Herefordshire called 'Byford'. At first glance this surname seems to be one of those medieval dialectal surnames such as 'Bitheway' from 'by the way' or 'Townsend' from 'atten town end', but this is not the case. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th century 'byge-forda' which describes a shallow area on the river where there was a landing stage. In fact it is more specific in meaning even than that, it describes an area where a market was held, the goods being brought by river. The place name is first recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as 'Buiford', and then in 1242 as 'Buford' before reaching 'Byford' in 1350. Thereafter both place name and surname seem to have kept in step, except for the occasional surname variants of Biford, Byfford, and Byforth. A Coat of Arms was granted to the Byfords of Byford, Hereford. This has the blazon of a blue field, charged with an eagle displayed in silver and a gold chief. Examples of the surname recording include Elizabetha Byford who married Edwardus Cockeram at St Leonards, Hereford, on July 16th 1639, and John Biford, who married Elizabeth Quantrill at St Benets, Pauls Wharf, London, on November 7th 1738. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johannes de Byforde, which was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Hereford, 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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