The surname of GIFT is the Americanized form of the name GIFFART and was a baptismal name 'the son of Giford' an ancient although now forgotten personal name. The name is also spelt GIFFORD, GIFFART, JEFFERT, JEFFORD, and GIFFAUD. Early records of the name mention Giffard le Bretun, 1273 County Yorkshire. Johanna Juffard of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Henry Giffard of County Somerset, was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. The name was taken early to Scotland, and Sir Hugh Gifford is said to have settled in East Lothian in the reign of David I (before the year 1153), but the earliest charter on record of the name, mentions Sir Hugh, confirming he was granted estates by William the Lion dated in 1186. In the year 1250, a mandate was directed to the bishops of St. Andrews and Dunkeld, at the request of the king of Scotland, to assign to Richard Gifford, kinsman of the king, who was going to the Holy Land with five knights at his own expense. Andreas Gifford was the baillie of Aberdeen in 1408, and Willmus Gifford was a common councillor. James Gifhert was a tenant on the lands of the Abbey of Kelso in the year 1563. The village of Gifford in East Lothian is named after the family.
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