The surname of FORDHAM was a locational name - the dweller at the ford - a spot so called in Cambridge, Essex and Norfolk.
Almost every city, town or village extant in the Middle Ages has served to name one or more families. While a man lived in a town or village he would not be known by its name, as that would be no means of identification - all in the village would be so named. But when a man left his birthplace or village where he had been known and went elsewhere, people would likely refer to him by the name of his former residence or by the name of the land which he owned. Some had the name of a manor or village because they were lords of that place and owned it, but the majority descend from vassals of freeman who once had lived there. Early records of the name mention Bruman de la Fordham, listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. Reginald de la Fordham, was recorded in the year 1273 in County Suffolk. Andrew de Fordham, rector of Griston, County Norfolk in 1313. Henry de Fordham, rector of Wood-Norton, County Norfolk, 1344. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. George Fordham (1837-87) was an English jockey born in Cambridge. He was winner of the Derby in 1879 on Sir Bevys and he also won the Oaks and the Ascot Cup five times. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory.
Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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