Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Stratford Name
Surname Name Meaning, Origin, and Etymology
This Anglo-Saxon name is local surname meaning “of Strafforth”, a locale in West Riding, or “of Strafforth”, which are parishes in counties Wiltshire, Buckinghamshire, Warwick, Suffolk, and others. This literally translates to “the street ford”, meaning the ford (river crossing) on a Roman road. It derives from the Old English word straet (from the Latin strata) meaning road or street, and ford. In other words, it was town at a place where a road crossed a river or stream. The city Stratford-on-Avon appears in Anglo-Saxon documents as Stratford and Streford.
A common spelling variant of this surname is Strafford, and some less common spellings include Stratforde, Strafforth, and Stratforthe.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution:
In the 2000 census, Stratford ranked 16,347th in terms of popularity of commonness. The last name Strafford is ranked 81,364th. In recent years, Stratford was ranked as the 3,523rd most popular named in Great Britain, heavily located in the Suffolk region, followed by county Cheshire.
Early Bearers of the Surname
The first known bearer of the last name was Robert de Straford, who was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 AD, which was a survey of England and Wales ordered by William the Conqueror. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum, documents two people bearing this surname: Roger de Stratforthe in county Buckinghamshire, Hugh de Stratford in the same county, and William de Stratford in Oxford. A one Walter de Stratforde was documented in county Somerset in Kirby’s Quest during the reign of King Edward III (1327-1377) of England. The Poll Tax of Yorkshire in 1379 AD lists one Thomas Strafforth. The Register of the University of Oxford of 1589 lists two bearers in county Gloucestershire: George Stratford and Anthony Stratford.
An early baptism including this surname includes Roger, son of Edmond Stratforde, at St. James Clerkenwell in 1620. An early marriage involving this surname includes Mary Strafford to Edmund Norton in 1803 at St. George’s Hanover Square in London.
History, Genealogy, and Ancestry
The family is well-known in England and its branches include gentry, aristocracy, and clergy, as they date back to the Norman Conquest. The family has held seats and estate in the following locations: Stratford Park in Gloucester, Farmcote Manor in Gloucester, Merevale Hall in Warwickshire, Baltinglass Castle, Stratford House in London, and Belan House and Aldborough House in Ireland.
Robert de Stratford was the first burgess of Stratford on Avon in the thirteenth century. His children and nephews rose to powers in the church and include numerous people, including Henry de Stratford (Greater Clerk of Royal Chancery under King Edward III) and Andrew de Stratford (d. 1378) a clerk, knight, and landowner.
Edward Stratford (d. 1665) purchasaed the Manor of Merevale in Warwickshire in the 1600s. Robert settled at Baltinglass Castle and sired the Earls of Aldborough. The propery was inherited by Penelope Bate Stratford in 1749.
Thomas de Stratford was the original family member in Warwickshire and the family held the post of Archdeacon of Gloucester. Stephen de Stratford was father of John, who in 1320 AD, became a member of parliament. He was granted the Lordship of the Manor of Farmcote, Hawling, and Temple Guiting. Abigail Stratford , daughter of Robert Stratford, was the progenitor of the Irish Stratfords. In 1697, she married George Canning, and they had a son named Stratford Canning in 1703.
A branch of the Merevale family went into Ireland, where they entered into the peerage as the Earls of Aldborough, of the Palatine of Upper Ormond. The title was created in 1777. The first Viscount, John Stratford, was created Baron Baltinglass in Wicklow in 1763.
In 1760, Lady Amelia Stratford, daughter of John Stratford, 1st Earl of Aldborough, married Richard Wingfield, 3rd Viscount of Powerscourt and took his name. Maternal Stratford lineage descends from her through the various Viscounts of Powerscourt (heir apparent is Mervyn Anthony Wingfield, born 1935).
A one Richard Stratford was born in 1742 in England. He married Charity Coleman and they had a son named John. John was born in 1788 in Russel, Alabama. He married Elizabeth McDowell and was the father of Catherine Aleria (Stratford) Day. He passed away in 1843.
Early American and New World Settlers
A one Robert Stratford went to St. Christophers, Barbados in January of 1634. A one Thomas Strafford was buried in 1679 in the parish of St. Michaels, Barbados. Other early settlers include: Richard Stratford (Maryland 1637), Joseph Stratford (Maryland 1664), William Stratford (Maryland 1668), Thomas Stratford (Nova Scotia, Canada 1749) and William Stratford (Nova Scotia 1750).
The mottos for Stratford and Strafforth are: 1) Virtuti nihil obstat et armis, meaning “Nothing resists valour and arms”, 2) Ne cede malis; sed contra, meaning “Yield not to misfortunes; on the contrary, meet them with fortitude”, 3) Mougarre (This word is borne on an escroll, wrhich accompanies the crest ofaugmentation commemorative of the services of the first Lord Strafford. It may be the name of a Basque village where he fought?), and 4)Tuebor, meaning “I will defend”.
Later people bearing this surname that bore the arms: 1) Stratford after Wixgfield, Lieut.-Col., of co. Kent (s. of Vise. Powerscourt, Quarterly Arms,  and 2) Stratford, late Morgan,of Wales, and co. Glouc. and Hereford, .
The family has two main arms: the trinity and the lion. The trinity consists of a 1) fess humette between two trestles 2) roundels (or hawks heads), and is the older of the two. It was first used by John de Stratford and his descendants in the fourteenth century. The second, the lion, contains a lion on a field of barry or paly and was recorded in 1543 during the Heralds Visitations to Gloucester. It became associated with the Gloucester, Merevale, and Irish branches of the family.
Famous people with this last name include: 1) Nicholas Stratford (1633-1707) who was an Anglican prelate (high ranking ecclesiastical dignitary) and the Bishop of Chester, 2) William Samuel Stratford (1789-1853) who was an English astronomer who served in the Royal Navy, 3) Ralph de Stratford (1300-13534) who was a Bishop of London, and 4) John de Stratford (1275-1348) who was Archbishop of Caterbury and Bishop of Wincester, as well as the Treasurer and Chancellor of England.