The surname BRADFORD was a locational name 'of Bradford' parishes in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon. Also two townships in County Northumberland and a suburb of Manchester is so called. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as "de", "atte", "by" or "in". The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. Following the Crusades in Europe a need was felt for a family name. This was recognized by those of noble blood, who realised the prestige and practical advantage it would add to their status. Early records of the name mention Alexander de Bradeford, County Northumberland, 1273. Johanes de Bradford was listed in the Yorkshire Poll tax of 1379. John Bradford married Susannah Wyberd at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1788. William Bradford (1589-1657) was one of the Pilgrim Fathers who emigrated to America on the Mayflower, and was a member of the first exploratory expedition in 1621. He was the son of a yeoman farmer, born in Austerfield in South Yorkshire. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
The associated arms are recorded in Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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