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The Morford Genealogical Collection

Transcribed from the MORFORD HISTORIAN, Vol. 1 No. 2, October 1980,  p. 13
 Mrs. Enid Eleanor Adams,  Publisher

THE EARLIEST KNOWN APPEARANCE of a name anything like MORFORD found in records of the New World, is Nathan Murfitt, age 23 listed among "Emigrants for St. Christophers" out of the Port of Limworth, 1634, to be transported in the "Falcon" .  In another ship (not named), also bound for the Barbados on 6 January 1634/5, the passenger list contains the name of Thomas Marfutt, age 22.   Nothing further has been discovered as to either of these early voyagers to this continent.  It is not improbable that, having crossed the Atlantic, one or both may have reached the mainland on a vessel engaged in the coastal trade, which might not have been subject to any requirement of maintaining a passenger list.  It is interesting to note that in early New Jersey records, MORFORD records appeared in spelling variants quite similar to "Murfitt" and "Marfutt" -- such as "Morfit" and "Maurfoot".

A name somewhat similar to MORFORD is also found in Massachusetts records.  In 1645, a William Brown of Salisbury married Elizabeth MUNFORD or MURFORD.  Although no MURFORD males are shown in usual lists of New England settlers, such as Savage's "Genealogical
Dictionary of New England", that indispensable handbook does have this very interesting entry:  "MULFORD, JOHN, Easthampton, L.I.  1650, one of the first sett. says Wood . . . . . .perhaps went home for some time, and came again in the Speedwell, 1656, from London, when the name
appears MULFOOT."   In England, the early spelling of Mulford is MOLFORD, the same variant shown in the 1802 deed whereby Cornelius Morford [1740-1825] sold his Salem Co. , NJ property before moving to Delaware.  Salem records indicate that among founders of the Methodist Episcopal Church was a Cornelius "Mulford" ; he is believed to have been the same person as Cornelius Morford, above.  Some Mulford historians say adamantly that there is no possibility that the two names have a common origin; but can the interchange of spellings be laid strictly to error?  Until an in-depth study of Mulford records is completed, this editor prefers to reserve judgment at this time.

Next we come to a record which may be significant in our search for the origin of New Jersey's MORFORD brothers.  Skordas' "Early Settlers of Maryland" mentions a land grant made in 1663 to a JOHN MORFIT.  This was less than nine years before the appearance in New Jersey of John and Thomas Morford, who obtained land grants in the Monmouth Patent.  Might it be that these brothers were sons of the Maryland man?

Although Dr.  John Stillwell's brief article on the Morford family, in his Volume IV, "Historical and Genealogical Miscellany, Early Settlers of New Jersey and Their Descendants", published 1916, commences with the statement that "Thomas and John Morford came from England and settled at Colt's Neck, Middleton . . .", nowhere is any evidence presented as to the date of their arrival, the place of disembarkment, or the name of the ship upon which they came.  The basis for this statement may have been information imparted to Dr. Stillwell in personal interviews, or correspondence, with descendants of Morfords or other persons who were many generations removed from anyone having had personal knowledge of the family origin and history.

It seems more likely that the Morford brothers were of the second, not the first, generation in the New World, and that they were among those first settlers who came from other areas of the colonies when New Jersey was opened for settlement.  Settlers from Gravesend, L.I. , were granted land known as the "Monmouth Patent" , April 1665.  Stillwell also says that "Rhode Island . . . furnished the Monmouth Tract with . . . many of its settlers."  Might it not be that Maryland, too, provided some who came into New Jersey a few years after 1665?  More about this in our January issue -- don't miss it!


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 Clifford Morford

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Monday, 27-Oct-2008 10:29:34 MDT