This ancient English surname of WILLFORD was a locational name meaning 'one who came from WILFORD' a parish in County Nottingham. The name is also spelt WILFORD, WILFRID, WYLFORD and WYLFORDE. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Henry de WYLLEFORD, who was recorded in Nottingham in the year 1273, and Gervase de WYLEFORD was documented in Nottingham in 1300. Surnames can be divided into four categories; place names, occupation names, nicknames and patronymics. PLACE NAMES are the largest group and covers all those names first applied to people who lived in or nearby to a particular place. For example, Grove, Wood, Field, Meadow, and Street are obvious. Occasionally names were taken from obscure villages or hamlets which no longer exist and this can make research confusing. OCCUPATION NAMES cover nearly all trades which existed in the Middle Ages. These are numerous. It does not necessarily follow that such names as King, Duke, Earl and so on mean your ancestors were of noble blood. It is much more likely that such named people worked for the person referred to. NICKNAMES. This is a smaller group but in many ways more interesting. They usually originated as a by-name for someone by describing their appearance, personal disposition or character but which became handed down through the ages and did not apply to their descendants. For instance the name Black would denote a dark man, Little, someone small (or even somewhat ambiguously) someone tall. PATRONYMICS. This group covers all names which derive immediately from the owner's father. Many christian names which are also surnames have, over the years, lost the possessive form but the origin is still the same. Examples of this could be names such as Peter,Thomas, Henry - all names which became both christian and surnames over the years. Later instances of the name include Christopher WILFORD and Frances Jackes, who were married in London in the year 1555, and Thomas WYLFORDE and Elizabeth Hawes were wed at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in 1559. Robert WYLFORDE of County Kent, registered at Oxford University in the year 1584.
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