The surname of GARFORTH was a locational name 'of Garforth' a parish seven miles east of Leeds, Count Yorkshire. The name was originally derived from the Old English word GARA FORD, literally meaning the dweller on the triangular piece of ground. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land and indicated where he actually lived.
Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.
Early records of the name mention Johannes de Garforthe, listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Tichard Garford was documented in Yorkshire in 1447. The name has many variant spellings which include Garfath, Garfit and Garford.
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