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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

(London, and Aylesbury, co. Buckingham). Motto—Deeds, not words. Sa. a fess dancettée or, in chief two eagles displ. ppr. Crest—A hawk's lure or, stringed sa. betw. two wings ppr.

Origin, Meaning, Family History and Rickford Coat of Arms and Family Crest

Rickford Origin:


Origins of Rickford:

Listed as Reckford, Retchford, Richford, Rickford, and possibly more, this is an English surname. It is locational, and one of those names which in form, presumes that it is quite popular, but in fact is very limited. The name perhaps starts from Rickford, now a 'lost' old hamlet near Guildford in the division of Surrey, or from Rickford, near Axminster, in Somerset. Both places perhaps have a similar meaning of the small and shallow river crossing from the pre 7th century Olde English "ric-forda." Locational surnames usually 'from' names. That is to say, names were given to people after they departed from their original hamlet to move somewhere else, and were most easily recognized by being called after their initial residences. In this example, the surname was quite well noted in the remaining church records of the city of London from Elizabethan times. Early examples comprise those of Thomas Retchford who married Sara Dowcher at St James Clerkenwell, in 1573, William Richford, who was named at St. Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, in 1634, Charles Rickford, who was a christening witness at the famous parish of St Martins in the Field, Westminster, in 1694, and Simon Reckford who married Mary Martin at St. Benets, Pauls Wharf, in 1729. Surnames became necessary when governments started personal taxation. In England, this was known as Census Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.


More common variations are: Ricford, Rockford, Ruckford, Reckford, Ricaford, Rickfard, Rackford, Rocford, Rokford, Rigford.


The surname Rickford first appeared in Buckinghamshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. The Saxon rule of English history declined after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The language of the courts was French for the next three centuries, and the Norman atmosphere overcame. But Saxon surnames remained, and the family name first mentioned in the year 13th century when they held estates in that shire.


Many of the people with surname Rickford had moved to Ireland during the 17th century.

Here is the population distribution of the last name Rickford: United States 225; England 108; Canada 50; Guyana 33; Australia 9; Trinidad and Tobago 2; Northern Ireland 1; Barbados 1; South Africa 1.

Notable People:

Greg Rickford, PC, was born in September 1967. He is an old Canadian leader, who gave services as the Minister of Natural Resources in the government during the rule of the Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He was selected to the House of Commons in the 2008 general election and represented the constituent district of Kenora as a member of the Moderate Party.

John Russell Rickford was born in September 1949, in Georgetown, Guyana is a Guyanese academic and writer. His book Spoken Soul as The Story of Black English, which he wrote together with his son, Russell J. Rickford, won the American Book Award in 2000.

Russell John Rickford (born c. 1975) is an American professor and writer. An assistant professor in the History Office at Cornell University, he has written the only in-depth profile on Betty Shabazz.

Rickford Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Rickford blazon are the fesse dancettee and eagle. The two main tinctures (colors) are or and sable.

The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.1. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 2. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.3.

Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur 4. In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known 5. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 6.

The fesse is a broad horizontal band across the centre of the shield, in very ancient times it was said to occupy one third of the area height of the shield 7, however it soon became somewhat narrower. This created an opportunity to add decorative edging to the band, of many forms, and to very pleasing artisitic effect, at least close up – it must be admitted that at distance some of the forms are hard to distinguish! Dancettee (sometimes spelled dancetty or dancy) is a bold, zig-zag pattern, perhaps the most distinctive of the patterned edges. Purists might argue that the French variant denché Is not the same, being of larger size and with the points being 90º, but there is much variation in actual practice so the difference is perhaps not that meaningful.

Where the lion is undisputed king of the animals, the eagle undoubtedly plays the same role in the realm of the birds, its use in this form dating back to at least the Roman period 8. They tend to be illustrated in quite some detail, especially in continental European arms, and have almost as wide variety of postures and accessories as the lion, well illustrated in the reference 9 as well as being just the eagle’s head or eagle’s leg. The symbology of the eagle is deep and complex, Wade devotes several pages to the subject 10, but suffice it say that it has long been associated with Empire and those held in high honour – any armiger would be pleased to have any form of Eagle upon their arms!

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  • 1 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
  • 2 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85
  • 3 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 4 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable
  • 5 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 6 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35
  • 7 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P117
  • 8 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Eagle
  • 9 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P235-238
  • 10 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P72-74