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The Morford Genealogical Collection

Transcribed from theMorford Historian July 1980 Vol. 1 No. 1 p 1-2

Sixty-five Spellings for Morford
Enid Adams

"SIXTY-FIVE SPELLINGS FOR MORFORD" were discussed in an article written by the Morford Historian in 1962.  Since then, the quantity of known spelling variants has more than doubled!  True, not all of the variations always  pertain to Morfords --- but documents have been found in which the name was spelled three different ways!  As many pioneers were frequently were unable to write, the clerk who recorded the marriage, or the lawyer who drew up the will or deed spelled the name "by ear".  The softened and slurred southe'n speech produced such variants as MOFFARD or MOFFORD.   In one Kentucky family the grandfather insisted on the latter spelling.  But, guess what?  Recently his granddaughter acquired an early tintype of him, in Civil War uniform, on the back of which, in his own handwriting, the signature was MORFORD!!  The tradition is that this branch, which supported the Union side in the conflict, wanted to repudiate all relationship to Maj. John D. Morford of Bracken County, who was a slaveholder; thus the change of spelling.

Earliest records in New Jersey show many spellings pertaining to the Morford family.  Among these were:  MAERFOOT, MAURFOOT, MOFFORD, MORFETT, MORFFORD, MORFIT, MORFOOT, MORFOT, MORPHET, MORTFORD and MURFORD.   If you think that's confusing, read on!

For example, let's check through one family's records.  Cornelius Morford [1741-1825], who married Hester Brian in 1761 in Burlington County N. J.,  moved to Salem County    by 1774, and while usually shown in the tax ratable lists as MORFORD, is found as MAUFORD in 1784 and 1785; in the 1793 Militia Census he is "Cornelos MEFFERD", but his son was "Cornelous MOFOURD Jr."   In an 1801 deed, just before he moved with his family to St.George's Hundred, New Castle County Delaware, the name appears as MORFORD and MOLFORD.  His son Isaac, who died in 1817 in Appoquinimink Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware, was shown variously as MORFORT, MOFFARD and MOFFORD.  Isaac's widow, Barbara, is shown on an 1825 tax list as "Barbary MAUPHET", with sons Cornelos and Isaack.  Another son of Isaac Sr., Frederick [1788-1851]], was called MORFERD in the 1820 census of Wayne Co., Ohio; appeared as MOFFRED in the 1830 census of Holmes Co., Ohio, and as MORFIT in the 1840 census of Madison Co.,  Ohio.  Next Frederick moved to Illinois, where the 1850 census of DeWitt County shows his name as MORFRET.

Frederick's eldest son, Abraham S. [1814-1881] was recorded as MOFORD at his marriage, MONFORD in a later census record.  The second son, Frederick Jr. [1816-1885] was shown as MOFFERT on his marriage record.  Isaac [1820-96], third son, was called MOFFORD in his newspaper obituary, but the cemetery plot which he had bought, and in which he was buried, was recorded as belonging to "I. MUNFORD".  The fourth son, John [1821-1875], was found as MOFFAT in the 1850 census of DeWitt County, Ill.  The fifth son, Robert, [1825-1867] was living with his parents in 1850, thus appears in the MORFRET spelling; while Wesley [1828-1902], the youngest son, was called MOREFORD in his Civil War pension file.  Robert's grandson, Robert Harris Morford [1881-1957], for reasons known only to himself, changed his name to MOFFETT.  [Did he know something we don't, about the early family -- or was he just an individualist?]

So, here are a total of 20 variant spellings appearing in a single branch of Morfords, within a five-generation span!  The lesson to be learned here is that we must never be adamant in demanding that the name must be spelled in what we consider the "correct" way, in all early records; nor must we ever declare that these spelling variations cannot pertain to our family.  They CAN, and they DO!

In this article Mrs. Adams mentioned another article, which she wrote in 1962, about spelling variations of the Morford name.  She did not mention the name of the publication.   If you know what it is, I'd like to hear from you.

Please direct all comments and queries to:
 Clifford Morford

This page was last updated:
January 29, 2007
Monday, 27-Oct-2008 10:29:28 MDT