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Mulford Genealogy and Mulford Family History Information

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Profiles

  • Abigail Mulford (1690 - 1764)
    Her precise year of birth (1690), together with her date of death, is provided on her gravestone.
  • Abigail Wade (1740 - 1783)
  • Anna Sparrow (1691 - 1772)
  • Anne Rich (Mulford) (c.1675 - 1753)
  • Dorcas Eldredge (1693 - 1755)
    Owing to the church troubles at Billingsgate (Eastham) Elisha, by church letter dated 21 Jun 1741, had himself and children baptized inTruro, where he is on the church records as "Elisha Eldredge Jr. o...

About the Mulford surname

"Traditions in local communities, passed down the generations by word of mouth usually have their basis in fact, so should not be lightly dismissed." --The Parish Church of Northam, David W. Gale.

Family traditions can be misleading, but the Mulfords are a global community and family quite unlike most others. Granddaughters may remain Mulfords well beyond the tenth generation. Mulford oral history, maintained in much the same detail in many lines, leaves no real question about the origins of this ancient family. There will always be a few who challenge things of course, often just for the sake of being contrary, yet substantial clues confirm what most Mulfords have always known about themselves.

Today, only about 3000 people in the USA have the surname Mulford, making it quite rare, and exceedingly rare in earlier centuries, so that it is not likely to have had multiple origins, meaning most Mulfords descend from a single ancestor. But not all, since some "Mulfords" who appear in old historical records were from families whose names were merely misprinted or misspelled as Mulford, in a few instances, when otherwise they never were called Mulford and never called themselves Mulford, such as the "Mulefords" or Melefords (Milfords) of Wiltshire, leading to misconceptions that the name Mulford derived from Milford.

Mulford once was spelled with an O and occasionally with a U, depending on location or dialect, and originally there was no L in the name. Senior Mulfords traditionally, even today, pronounce it "Mo'ford" as though the L were silent, often with a nasalized N sound instead. This is evidenced further in a number of early American documents where their fathers are on record pronouncing Mulford as "Munford" and, in some instances, as "Mafford" and "Merford" and "Mumford" et cetera. Under the influence of compulsory education most Mulfords now articulate the L distinctly, but this is a recent innovation.

Mulfords have spread out all over the world, mostly across North and South America. With much smaller numbers in Australia and Europe, indicating more Mulford ancestors must have come to America than remained behind in England. Nearly all Mulfords in America, both North and South, are the known descendants of three brothers (Thomas the Virginian, John the Judge, and William the Planter) who settled first with their parents in the vicinity of Boston, Massachusetts about 400 years ago, and afterwards, following the deaths of their parents, settling at East Hampton, the Hamptons, New York and in Virginia and New Jersey. They were sons of Thomas Southcott Mulford (Munford) of Cadbury, Parish of Chulmleigh, County of Devonshire (now called Devon, England) and Sarah of Maidstone, County of Kent.

Sarah & Thomas Southcott Mulford have been confused with Thomas & Susan Southcott Molford (born in 1551 --NOT 1571, the year Susan married Thomas) who were the parents of Thomas Southcott Mulford whose own sons are mistaken for the sons of Thomas and Susan, for whom they were named, who in turn were named after the sons of Roger and Amy Capnar Molford of Cadbury (14th-great-grandparents of Diana Spencer, mother of Prince Harry and William, the Duke of Cambridge and future King of England). According to heraldic records of the Visitations of Devon, Thomas and Susanna "Susan" Southcott Molford had four sons named Roger, John, Thomas, and "Gilbert" (another name for William in various records of the period), but all four were reported to have died before the Visitation of 1620, leaving only sisters --apparently.

Visitations were much like a census, however, and for this reason historians do not consider them, and sources based on them, entirely reliable, especially where someone was purported to have died. According to famed family remembrancer Capt. Ezekiel Mulford, of the American Revolution, the Mulfords who came to America had been officers in the English civil wars. Being Puritans, they would have stood with those opposed to the King, making them outcasts where the Molfords of Devonshire were concerned, who remained loyal to the King (as evidenced by their cooperation with the Visitations).

Molfords who joined the Puritans and went missing in early skirmishes with Royalist forces would have been written off as dead, probably escaping to the Puritan stronghold of Maidstone. Though probate records for both John and "Gilbert" Molford were entered, no actual record of death exists for their brother Thomas. (The will of Thomas Molforde of Cadbury, probated 1599 in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, is his father's, along with the will of Susanna Molford, probated 1659.) It has long been presumed Thomas Southcott Molford died in childhood, because there was no record of his death and his inheritance passed to an uncle, when in actuality he would simply have been disinherited.

There are good clues linking, beyond reasonable doubt, the Mulfords of America to the Molfords of Devon. Thomas Mulford of East Hampton, New York, son of William the Planter, had both his name and son David's name inscribed MOLFORD --twice, with an O, just like the Devonshire family-- on David's grave which still can be seen at East Hampton's South End Cemetery, solid evidence positively linking them to Devonshire, showing that among themselves at least the Mulfords in this line continued calling themselves Molford.

Thomas' mother, first wife of William Mulford, was Sarah Akeres, also spelled Akers. The Akeres or Akers family, it is well documented, were from Devonshire, long seated at Exeter, not far from South Molton.

The Mulfords of New England were a family of lawyers, skilled in municipal governance. Just like the Molfords of Devonshire. And, just like the Mulfords of Shropshire and Buckinghamshire.

Thomas Southcott Mulford, son of Thomas & Susan Southcott Molford and father of Thomas the Virginian, John the Judge, and William the Planter, was the great-great-great-great-grandson of Roger Molford I, a founding burgess of South Molton in the English county of Devonshire (himself the son of "Henry" or Roger de Mulford, a burgess named in Archives of the county of Shropshire dated 1348), likely the same as Roger Mulford, knight named in records of the county of Wiltshire, possibly of some relation to "Gilbert" (William) the Frenchman de Mullford (NOT Muleford) who likewise held property there in the community of Wily.

Contrary to oft-reposted internet genealogies, the Mulfords (Molfords) of Buckinghamshire, Shropshire, Devonshire, and Wiltshire were of no relation whatsoever to the family of Adam de Meleford, of the Manor of Meleford (Milford) in Wiltshire, father of Richard de Meleford (Richard de Muleford), brother of John de Meleford (John de Muleford), father of Edmund de Meleford (Edmund de Muleford) who left no male heir, with all of the family estates being inherited by a daughter, Anne or Agnes de Muleford. Though their name in a few instances was misrecorded as Mulford, incidentally omitting the E from Muleford, itself a misspelling of the more frequent Meleford, this family never called themselves either Muleford or Mulford.

It may be imagined Mulford derived from Muleford or Milford, but it is not so very easy to imagine that Molford did, and while some guess the Molfords got their name from the Mole river which flowed nearby, for which the town of South Molton itself was named, much easier and more reasonable are associations of Mulford or Molford with Montford (Montfort, frequently written Munford or Monford and sometimes Moford in the ancient records). Three or four different, unrelated Montford families lived in England, but the Molford family crest and coat of arms point us to only one of them.

Unlike most coats of arms where the symbols are more decorative than historical, the Molford arms were among a few which actually had been authenticated, at an early date, at a time in the Visitations when heraldic prescription was not accepted, so that the symbols really do mean what they depict, showing a royal (red-beaked) swan, wings expanded, and a Duke's crown of gold at the crest, above three silver white swans on a sable black shield --much resembling the banner of Buckinghamshire, where the largest concentration of Mulfords in England long resided and from which the Molford/Mulford coat of arms obviously derived. Gold in English heraldic symbolism was restricted to persons of close royal descent, and pure white swans, being restricted to royals, have in England been emblematic of royalty since the 1200's, showing Molford descent from a Duke of especially high royal status.

The ONLY Duke ever named Molford (or Moford, as the name then was spelled at times) was Simon de Montford, the Duke of Narbonne and Lord High Steward of England, father of Simon de Munford 6th Earl Leicester. Simon Munford's youngest son, husband of Mary Wellesbourne (Walesborn) of Shropshire and father of Edward de Montfort (Edward de Mulford), was Richard de Montfort of Buckinghamshire (Richard de Mulford of Shropshire). See, The Archaeological Journal, Royal Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 34, pp. 279-290. Both Richard de Mulford and Roger de Mulford are named together in the County Archives of Shropshire, dated 1348. A very aged man by then, Richard does not appear in any records after that date. He should not be confused with the Richard de Montfort born about one century after him who married Rose de Brandestan (a.k.a. Durvassel).

A youth at the time, Richard de Montfort took no part in his father Simon's failed revolution and remained loyal to his uncle the King, for which cause Richard's life was spared. It has been assumed, without proof, that Richard died or was killed in childhood, around the same time as his father. This is because from about that time forward, as historians have noted, Richard and his descendants went ordinarily under a new name and new coat of arms, the former having been defamed in Simon's rebellion. Though there has been some uncertainty among historians of what the new name and coat of arms were, in French pronunciation, where the T is silent and the N nasalized, the name Munford or Montford sounds, at least to English ears, very much like Mulford or Molford, as though there were an L in it, and so it came to be written. Many French words and names came to be spelled with an L in this way.

Mulford comes therefore from two French words, Mont and fort, meaning "from the mountain fortress," or in other words, "from the castle on the hill." Ford in Mulford comes then not from the English word ford, meaning a crossing, and thus the Mulfords do not come from a mill crossing, mule crossing, mole crossing, muddy crossing, sandy crossing, mountain crossing, or any other sort of crossing purported by some, but from a castle on the mount --Castle Montfort-l'Amaury to be precise, ancestral home of Simon de Montford in the suburbs of Paris, in the Ile de France region, not in Montfort-sur-Risle which is in the Normandy region of France and nowhere near Paris.