The surname of MITFORD was a locational name 'of Mitford' a parish in the union of Morpeth, County Northumberland. A locational name usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The original bearer would take his name from the village, town or the area where he dwelt. This name would identify his whole family, and would follow them wherever they moved. A family of this name, holding the title Baron Redesdale, trace their descent from Sir John Mitford (died.1409). of Mitford in Northumberland. He was granted lands by the Earl of Atholl in 1396. His descendants in the 20th century included the Mitford sisters, one of whom was the novelist Nancy Mitford. The first Baron Redesdale, John Freeman-Mitford (1748-1830) was Lord Chancellor of Ireland. 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 that it would add to their status. Early records of the name mention Adam de Mitford, 1273, County Suffolk. Peter de Mitford, County Northumberland, ibid. Robert de Mitford, bailiff of Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1275. Hugh de Mutford, was documented during the reign of Edward I (1279-1307). Lionel Mitford and Katherine Clinton were married in London in the year 1685. Booth Braithwaite and Ann Mitford were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1761. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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