Mulford Name Study: Where Mulford Mountains Move

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Date: [unknown]
Location: Worldwidemap
Surnames/tags: Mulford Molford
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It is becoming increasingly evident that all Mulfords are related, everywhere around the world, either by ancestry or through adoption. This includes even the Mulfords of South America, in Colombia mostly, all descending from David Mulford of Bogata, son of Pvt Benjamin Mulford of New Jersey. The surname has long been extremely rare, and it remains rare even today, indicative of the singular origin of its bearers.

If you are in any way a Mulford or Molford, or Munford, we do want to hear from you.


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We aim to gather in this one place everything about the surname Mulford and its variants (Molford and, sometimes, Munford, but not Milford). Let's make it a valuable reference for everyone studying the lines which cross or intersect with Mulford.

We will find that Mulford has no true connection, as whimsically supposed, to the name Milford or Meleford (from the English "mill" and "ford"), denoting descendants of those who lived near a ford ("crossing") by the mill. Molford derives, instead, from the French "mont" and "ford" ("fort"), meaning those from a fortress on the mount. "From the Castle on the Hill" in other words --Castle Montfort-l'Amaury, to be precise. Not from a mountain crossing or mill crossing, mule crossing or mole crossing, muddy crossing or sandy crossing, or any other sort of ford as has been supposed.

Evidence presented will show, by multiple exhibits, that Mulford or Molford derives from the surname Munford or Montford, from none other than the Montforts of Montfort-l'Amaury, near Paris, in the Île-de-France region. (Not to be confused with the unrelated Montforts of Montfort-sur-Risle, in the Normandy region of France). Historically, Mulfords in America have written the name both as Mulford and Molford, just like the Mulfords of Europe, and sometimes also as Munford, leaving the "l" silent with a nasalized "n" sound as is traditional among senior Mulfords to this day. (In French pronunciation the "n" in Montford is nasalized and the "t" is silent, sounding much like an "L" to English ears at least. Many French words and names came to be spelled with an L in this way.)

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There are several, competing theories attempting to link Mulford with Milford. One argues that Mulford comes from Milford (Meleford) in Wiltshire while another purports it is from Milford (Milverdico) in Wales. Yet another common, though less accepted, theory asserts it came from a town called Mudford. What evidence, if any, is there in support of these claims?

Supposedly, Roger Molford of the county of Devonshire (likely the same man as Roger Mulford in the nearby county of Wiltshire) descended from the Mulefords (Milfords) of Wiltshire, including Richard de Muleford (son of Adam de Meleford of the Manor of Meleford, also called Milford) whose brother John de Muleford was the father of Edmund de Muleford. However, Edmund (whose actual name was Meleford) inherited all of his uncle Richard's property, all of which in turn was inherited by Edmund's daughter Agnes, proving that neither Richard de Meleford nor John de Meleford had any other male heir, and that Edmund de Meleford, in turn, left no male heir of his own, which means this line ended with Edmund. They could not possibly have been our ancestors, therefore. Furthermore, these Milfords never called themselves Muleford, but were nearly always recorded as Meleford, with Meleford being mistranscribed as Muleford (and, sometimes, Mulford, accidentally omitting the letter "e" several times) in only a few instances.

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Memories: 1
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My 90-year-old grandfather, Henry Bigelow Mulford (1884-1974), and my 96-year-old father, Harold Edward Mulford (1921-2017), usually pronounced their surname as "Mo'ford" (with a bit of nasalized "n" sound, just like my fathers before them, some of whom at times had their name recorded as Munford, and variations thereof, all the way back), and in fact this has long been the historic pronunciation of our surname, in multiple Mulford family lines, though today most Mulfords have of course been taught, with the rise of compulsory public education, to enunciate the "u" and "l" distinctly.

According to Grandfather Henry, as he had learned from his father and grandfather before him, as he himself instructed us on various occasions when we were children, and as he had also many times informed my father, we descend from three brothers, two of whom he remembered were "William and John" in "New York" who had come to America with "Sarah and Thomas" their parents (along with the "Pilgrims"), when our surname used to be Molford, having "AN O" instead of U, before it was changed as he explained. The first Mo'fords came to England from a place somewhere "between" France, Holland, and Germany [Flanders, I believe, in the region of modern Belgium], and originally there was "NO L" in our name, he exclaimed.

posted 15 Sep 2017 by Martyn Mulford   [thank Martyn]
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We use here the Mulford (Molford) family coat of arms, as described in the Visitations of Devonshire for one. These are the only arms documented in the Mulford or Molford name, contrary to unsubstantiated claims of an oak leaf coat in various amateur and internet genealogical sources. While family coats of arms are not allowed in some countries, such do exist and are permitted under the laws of English heraldry, as documented in the following discussion:
posted by Martyn Mulford