The surname of HEADFORD was of the locational group of surnames, a habitation name from an unidentified minor place, apparently so called from the Old English 'heod' (heathland) and 'ford' literally meaning the dweller by the heather covered heath. The names of habitation are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages, farmsteads or other named habitations. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and in fact whole countries. As a general rule, the further someone travelled from his place of origin, the broader the designation. Someone who stayed at home might be known by the name of his farm or locality in the parish; someone who moved to another town might be known by the name of his village; while someone who moved to another county could acquire the name of the county or region from which he originated. The name appears to be familiar to the Durham area, and HEDLUM (without surname) who was documented in the year 1190, appears to be the first of the name on record. HEDLEM (without surname) is documented in 1220 and Edwin Headlande of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379.
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, coat 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.