Mulford Family History & Genealogy

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Mulford Surname History

Early Mulford tradition maintained that the three founding Mulford brothers (William Gilbert, Judge John, and Thomas the Virginian, of Massachusetts and New York, from whom most if not all Mulfords in North and South America today descend) were sons of Sarah "Southcott" and Thomas from "Cadbury" in England, son of Roger Molford of Cadbury, son of Wilton Molford of Bishops Nympton whose father also was named Wilton Molford, son of Thomas Molford of Bishops Nympton, son of Roger Molford of South Molton. Research since has proved, from the Visitations of Devon, that a Susan (not Sarah) Southcott --having sons Gilbert, John, and Thomas-- did indeed marry Thomas Molford from Cadbury (which is in the parish of Chulmleigh, county of Devon or Devonshire, not near Maidstone, Kent as once was supposed) who was the son of Roger Molford of Cadbury in Chulmleigh, son of William (not Wilton) Molford of Garliford, in the parish of Bishops Nympton in Devonshire, son of William (again not Wilton) Molford of Garliford, son of Thomas Molford of Garliford, son of Roger Molford of South Molton in Devonshire. Very compelling in our tradition, then, are the misspellings. Since anyone seeing the actual English records would have known better, our tradition therefore predates any research into the matter, confirming the authenticity of what was maintained. Early Mulford genealogy was recorded in family Bibles, including a King's Bible given to Thomas Molford III and Mary Gardiner Conklin II when they married. Such genealogy of course was handwritten, in which form the name Susan easily was misread as Sarah (with 's' and 'n' being read as 'r' and 'h') and the name William repeatedly was mistaken as Wilton (with 'iam' appearing to be 'ton'). Even though in the Visitations it is reported that all three brothers died young and childless in England, no bodies ever were recovered, and John's English wife in fact refused to accept that he had died, consistent with reports among his American descendants that one of the brothers had left behind "another wife" in England. Having joined the Puritan rebellion, the brothers would have become outcasts in their own homes since their Devonshire families remained loyal to the King, as seen in the Visitations. The brothers were merely missing and presumed dead, probably in some early skirmish between Puritan and Royalist factions. Changing their name to the more common spelling of Mulford, they escaped first to the Puritan stronghold of Maidstone in Kent, and eventually to America where all children born to them remained of course unknown to our Devonshire kin. A number of clues show the brothers did in fact come from Devonshire. Wlliam's wife was Sarah Akers (also spelled Akeres), daughter of Thomas Akeres. The Akers or Akeres family, it is well documented, were from Devonshire, in Exeter, not far from South Molton. Also, William's son Thomas had his own name and young son David's name --both times-- spelled Molford (with an O, just like the family in Devonshire) on David's tombstone which can still be seen in the South End Cemetery at East Hampton, New York, showing that at least in private this line of Mulfords continued calling themselves Molford. Furthermore, just like the Mulfords of East Hampton, the Molfords of Devonshire practiced law, long engaged in municipal government. Too much has been made of the fact that William is called "Gilbert" in the Visitations. The name Gilbert was then a kind of second name for William, as evidenced in various records of the period. This additionally is confirmed in that Thomas and Susan named their sons after Thomas and his own brothers, the sons of Roger and Amy Molford --Roger, Thomas, John, and William. No real evidence supports claims being propagated by many that the brothers were born in or around 1610 (actually the date they went missing in England). According to the Visitations of Devon, Susan Southcott was born in 1552 and married Thomas Molford on December 3, 1571 (often misreported now as Thomas' birthdate), which means their sons could not have been born much later than 1590 or 1595, especially when their father, Thomas Molforde according to records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, was dead by 1599, his will having been probated in that year.

Mulford Country of Origin, Nationality, & Ethnicity

The name Mulford is English and was originally French (as Munford and Montford). Some say the Montfords of Montfort-l'Amaury were also Basque in origin.

Mulford Meaning & Etymology

Although the name of Mulford in England may have common associations with the family of Millford or Meleford (a.k.a. Muleford) in Wiltshire, most if not all Mulfords in America today are descendants of the Mulfords who came from Devonshire, Shropshire, and Buckinghamshire where the name was usually spelled Molford or Molfford, derived not from Milford, but from the French name Montford or Montfort, as the Molford Coat of Arms demonstrates, showing descent from from a Duke of particularly high royal status (which could only have been Simon de Montford, Duke of Narbonne in France and 5th Earl Leicester in England), likely by his son Simon de Munford (also called Simon de Montfort 6th Earl Leicester and Lord High Steward of England) and grandson Richard de Moford (Montfort) of Buckinghamshire, as pure white swans on the Molford Arms indicate, themselves emblematic of royal descent. While ordinarily the Ducal coronet in heraldry is merely decorative and not proof of descent from a Duke, in the case of the Molford Arms it is of gold, restricted by heraldic rules to persons of close royal descent, and in this particular case the symbols were authenticated at a very early date, as documented by the Visitations of Devon, unlike the Arms of most other English families, who actually refused to have their Arms authenticated even when required by law to do so. In French pronunciation the name Montford sounds (at least to English ears) very much like Mulford, as though there were an L in it, and so it came to be spelled. Many French words and names in this way came to be spelled with an L among the English. The name comes from two French words, Mont and fort, meaning "from the mountain fortress," or in other words, "from the castle on the hill." The "ford" in our name comes therefore not from the English word for "crossing," but from a French word for "castle." Therefore we do not come from a mule crossing, or mole crossing, or muddy crossing, or sandy crossing, or any other sort of crossing as purported by some, but from the castle on the hill --from Castle Montfort-l'Amaury to be precise, the ancestral home of Simon de Montfort and his heirs, in the Ile de France region just outside Paris (not to be confused with Montfort-Sur-Risle in the Normandy region, nowhere near Paris).

Mulford Pronunciation & Spelling Variations

The name originally was spelled with an O and at one time had no L. Some Mulfords even today pronounce the name traditionally "Moford," as though the L were silent.

Last names similar to Mulford

Mulforo, Mulfort, Mulforth, Mulfot, Mülfrath, Mulfred, Mulfreidel, Mulfrey, Mulfry, Mulfurd, Mulfurst, Mulfz, Mulg, Mulga, Mulgado, Mulgadoluis, Mulgady, Mulgahy, Mulgale, Mulgalia

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