Spafford/Spofforth Family History + Trivia

[Updated 8/26/13 to include the contested 21st generation entry and fix small typos.]


Recently, my family vacationed in England. While there, we visited the town and castle ruins in Spofforth, a small town in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Spofforth is strongly suggested as the ancestral home of the Spafford, Spofford, Spufford, Spuford, Spoford, Spauforth, Spofer, Spawforth, Spofforth, Spoforth, Spoffurth, Spoffort, Spofferd, Spofforths, Spauforthe, Spoofourthe, etc. family lines, at least as far back as they can be traced. (And no, not the Staffords — that is a totally different family.) That has prompted me to write up some things about the family and family history for my daughter, nieces, nephews, and other Spaffords. Read on — if you dare.

A note about spelling. Up until a few hundred years ago, spelling really wasn’t viewed as “fixed.” There were many reasons for this, including lack of references, evolving language, and low literacy rates. Thus, things were often spelled out as the scribe heard them, and there are some different spellings over time. I try to spell things in an accepted way, and reproduce the ancient spellings the way I found them in the references.

Spafford Narrative History

If you go back far enough (100 generations, certainly), every family likely interweaves with every other in a locale. I imagine if you go back 100,000 generations or so you come up with the few original homo sapiens, so in that sense every family is connected. Thus, at some levels, we are all related.

Throughout time, there was a lot of intermarriage of families and clans, and even among not-too-distant relatives, so family trees don’t really branch out quite so much as mathematics would predict. But for purposes of this essay, if we base our story on the Western view of descent of family name via the paternal line, and if we assume that all the women directly on that line were truthful about who was the father of the children involved (not necessarily a given in any family line), then my family can trace back as far as Orm in Yorkshire, England in the 10th century.

Orm (or Arm; old Danish for Dragon) was apparently a Christian lord of Viking descent, born around 965 AD. It is entirely possible that he arrived in England during the conquest by King Cnut around 1010, and may have been one of the clan chiefs (or son of a clan chief) who helped Cnut in that conquest: Orm was mentioned in an early charter of land by Cnut in 1033. Orm was a Thane in the area, of the “family” Ormerod. Orm has record of being a significant leader, and shows up again in the “Ormulum” text. Little is really known of his life, but he apparently lived near what is now Leeds. Orm paid for the restoration of the church in Kirkdale, and an engraving above the door still commemorates that. He held significant estates in Northumbria, either by conquest or gift.

Orm married into royalty. His wife, Etheldreda was the daughter of Aldred, Earl of Northumbria. Her uncle was Duncan, King of Scotland. Her great grandfather had been King of Northumbria before it had been conquered and added to the kingdom of England.

Gamel, Orm’s son, had significant land in York, Dereby, Lincoln, Stafford, Salop and Chester. He was Lord of Thorparch, on the river Thorpe in Yorkshire, There is record that he was generous to the Church, as he gave one of his manor homes to the Church of St. Peter in York. Given the time when he lived, he may have participated in Earl Siward’s 1054 military expedition against the Scottish king Mac Bethad (Macbeth!). Gamel’s mother was sister to Siward’s wife, and he was thus viewed as “family” in that household. Siward, the Earl of Northumbria, died in 1055 from dysentery. His son was too young to assume rule, so King Edward the Confessor appointed Tostig Godwinson, one of his own brothers-in-law, as Earl.

Tostig was not well-liked in Northumbria, being a Saxon in a land of many Danes and Scots. A few years earlier, he had been exiled by King Edward, briefly, from England along with his father, the Earl of Wessex. Tostig spent a lot of time in the court of King Edward, preferring the company of his kinsmen in Wessex to the people in Northumbria. He also likely secretly allied himself with the Scottish king Malcolm III. Tostig heavily taxed the locals, made unpopular decisions, and generally was disliked. He increased this dislike by appointing an inept administrator in the form of someone named Copsig who was inept. Tostig ordered the killing of several lords who objected to his heavy hand, including Ulf, son of Dofin, and Gamel, son of Orm, in 1064 during a visit to his manor in York under safe conduct.

Gamelbar, Gamel’s son, was successful and inherited his father’s lands. He was Baron of Spofforth, was recorded (after the Norman Conquest) as having the following fiefs: Folyfate, Aiketon, Spoford, Ribbeston, Plumpton, Colthorp, Stockton, Lynton, Heselwode, Sutton, Sighelinghale, Lofthowse, Kibelingcotes, Guthmundenham, Cloughton, Pokethorp, Esthorp, Hoton, Fosseton, Wandesford, Nafferton, Queldryke, Wartre, Thriberg, Edelington, Middleton, Stubbum, Skaln, Colesburn, Nesselfeld, Inwely, Wheteley, Askwith, Dalton, Horton, Casteley, Letheley, Walton, Bergheby, Arlesthorp, Soreby, Hemelsby, Steynton, Asmonderby, Merkingfeld, Hornyngton, Wolsington, Yedon, Rondon, Oxton, Tadcastre, Snawes, Haghornby, Gramhope, Kerkby, Kerkby-Orblawers, Carleton, Midhope, Remington, Neusome, Boulton, Horton, Gersington, Lynton, Ketelwell, Thresfeld, Arnecliffe, Addingham, Routherneck, Stynton, Estborne, Malghum, Brunby, Swyndon, Halton, Pathorne, Elgfeld, Thornton, Bunyngeston, Difford, Gisborne, and Westeby. Spoford or Spofforth was a place name, derived centuries earlier, and means “spot of land where the ford is” (as in ford of the river). It is uncertain what river that may have been, but the town of Spofforth is along the River Crimple, which empties into the River Nidd.

Clearly, Gamelbar was a wealthy and powerful thane.

On 3 October 1065, all the thegns (thanes) in the region rebelled, marched to Eoforwic (York) and defeated Earl Tostig’s house troops (all Danish mercenaries — he didn’t trust the locals, and apparently for good reason); Gamelbar was a leader in this revolt. King Edward sent Harold, Earl of Wessex (his brother-in-law), to York as his emissary. Harold secured a truce, and returned to the king with the recommendation that Tostig be stripped of his title. It was so ordered by the king, and Tostig again went into exile, now with a big grudge against Harold.

Tostig raised some troops via his father-in-law, Count Baldwin of Flanders, and made several raids along the coast. In January, 1066, King Edward died and Harold became king. Many others wanted to claim the throne, including Harald Hardrada of Norway, who launched an invasion. In September Tostig joined forces with Hardrada to invade Northumbria where they conquered York. Nearly simultaneously, William the Bastard of Normandy invaded Wessex (he claimed that Edward had promised the throne to him; he and Edward were cousins).

King Harold learned of the fall of York, first, and he put his troops on a forced march to the north where he caught Tostig and Hardrada by surprise. Their army was not prepared for a battle, and were defeated at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, with both Tostig and Hardrada killed and Gamel avenged.

However, as this concluded, news reached the King about William’s Norman force landing to the south. He put his exhausted (and bloodied) army on a march south to meet them. They eventually met at the battle of Hastings, where Harold — making some poor decisions along the way — died (as did his two remaiming brothers) and William became William the Conqueror; had he lost, he would probably still be known to history as William the Bastard.

Meanwhile, Gamelbeorn, also known as Gamelbar de Spofford, had been loyal to King Harold. He participated in the revolt to the Normans in 1068-1069, but the effort was defeated. William exacted terrible revenge on everyone in Yorkshire, including Gamelbar. He forfeit his estates, his mansion in York, and his many other manor homes. Those were given to William’s ally, William de Percy, who was made a Baron. Gamelbar’s main manor home was in the town of Spoford (Spofforth, now.) Gamelbar was almost certainly put to death if he was not killed in battle. (See the section below on Spofforth Castle)

So, the early history of the Spafford (et al) line has them being significantly involved with the incidents that led to the victory of William the Conqueror: Gamel’s assassination as a cause of rebellion against Tostig, leading to bad blood with Harold, leading to the attack that sapped Harold’s troops and thus unable to defeat William’s forces. As we will see later, they also were involved, very indirectly, with the Magna Carta. The family also had an indirect connection to Shakespeare via the real King Macbeth.

Line of Descent

Based on the available information (linked in above), the following appears to be the line from Orm, my (great-)29grandfather to me; there is some small dispute about whether there was another generation in 20-22. I’m leaving out siblings, although some are known (but not all are). A rather comprehensive family history up to 1888 is available as an online book, although at least one alternate and well-researched history presents some disagreement.

  1. Orm, Lord of Thorpatch. Born probably around 965, died before 1042
  2. Gamel of Spofforth. Born ca 990, killed 1064. Lord of Thorparch and Lord of the Manor of Ilkley. King’s fowler and Ranger of the Forest of Knaresborough. Assassinated by Tostig, Earl of Northumbria.
  3. Gamelbar or Gamelbeorn. Born ca 1015, died in or after 1068. Lord of Spofforth, Plumpton, Braham, etc.
  4. William de Spofforth. Born ca 1040. Joined Aldred, Archbishop of York in resisting Normans. His properties were also confiscated by the Normans in 1086 as a result of William’s scourge of Yorkshire.
  5. Walter de Spofforth. Born ca 1063, died ca 1091. Walter was killed in an invasion of England by Scottish king Malcolm III.
  6. John of Spofforth. Born ca 1085, died ca 1091. Married Juliana de Plumpton, daughter of Nigel, a lord. This was the first in a long familial association with the Plumptons over 200 years.
  7. Henry. Born ca 1115. Married the daughter of Sir Richard de Stokeld.
  8. Elwine or Elerina de Spofforth. (Also known as Robert.) Born ca 1145 and died after 1186.
  9. Gamel de Spofforth. Born ca 1175. Was Marshall to Nigel de Plumpton, Lord of Plumpton.
  10. William of Spofforth. Born ca 1200. Noted as attending a Parliment at St. Albans
  11. Nicholas de Spauford. Born ca 1235, died ca 1265. Married Dyonysia de Plumpton.
  12. Roger Blase de Spofford. Born ca 1260, died after 1325. Joined Lord Pembroke in the insurrection vs. Edward II in around 1320.
  13. Robert of Spofforth. Born ca 1285, died after 1338. Married Agnes Castelay.
  14. Robert of Spofforth. Born ca 1310, died after 1339. Married Evorta de Norwode. Served as the Prior of Helaugh.
  15. Robert Spofforth. Born ca 1340, died after 1361. Married Mary de Malebis, daughter of Sir Thomas de Malebis. Robert’s nephew, Thomas Spofford, was in the House of Lords in the reign of Henry V as Abbot of St. Mary’s in York. It is alleged that Thomas was a hero in one of the ballads of Robin Hood while Bishop of Hereford! He was also elected one of the four presidents of the Council of Constance.
  16. John Spofford. Born ca 1360, and died after 1396. Married Maria Meynel. Lived in Newsham, England.
  17. Robert Spofforth. Born ca 1405, died after 1431. Married Ann Anlaby, daughter of William Anlany and Alice Ughtred. Lived in Menthrope, near Selby, and in York.
  18. Robert Spofforth, born ca 1460, died after 1494. Married Ellen Roncliffe, daughter of Baron Bryan Roncliffe. They lived in Wistow Manor, near Selby.
  19. Bryan Spofforth. Born ca 1500, died ca 1555. Was rector of Barton-le-Street from 1536-1554. Married Agnes Aslaby (a nun), daughter of Walter Fawkes, in 1530. He was ejected from the church in 1554.
  20. Robert Spofford (sometimes listed as Richard). Born ca 1532. Married Agnes Clare, daughter of Gilbert Clare, in 1565. Robert was the first Protestant from birth in the family.
  21. [According to some accounts, there was another generation here, with Richard, b. ca 1565, died 1611. Married Anne. He was esquire to Sir Wm. Bambrough.]
  22. John Spofforth. Born ca 1588, died 1668. John was the Vicar of Silkstone, but was ejected as a nonconformist (Puritan). Married Ellen.
  23. John Spofford. born 1612 died ca 6 Nov 1678. Emigrated to Massachusetts in 1638 as a Puritan aboard the “John of London” sailing from Hull with a group led by the Rev. Ezekiel Rogers. Married Elizageth Scott, who came to MA at the age of 9 in April 1634 aboard the ship “Elizabeth.” She was the daughter of Thomas Scott and Elizabeth Strutt; the Scott family traces back to Charlemagne. John & Elizabeth lived in Ipswich and Newbury. John was 13 years older than Elizabeth. As a matter of trivia, each traveled to the colonies aboard a ship bearing their names.
  24. John Spaford II. Born 24 Oct 1648 in Rowley, MA and died 22 Apr 1696 in Bradford MA. He married Sarah Wheeler, daughter of David Wheeler and Sarah Wise. John’s name appears in the list of soldiers with Capt. Thomas Prentice’s Company in King Philip’s War, Feb 29, 1675-1676, and also in Capt. Appleton’s troop in the Narragansett campaign of the same war. John and Sarah had 8 children.
  25. Jonathan Spofford. Born 28 May 1684 in Rowley, MA and died 16 Jan 1772 in Georgetown MA. Married Jemima Freethe, daughter of John Freethe and Hannah Bray. Jonathan and Jemima had 13 children, not all of whom lived to adulthood.
  26. Jacob Spafford. Born 17 Aug 1722 Rowley, MA and died 1769 in Salisbury CT. He married Rebecca Smalley, daughter of Benjamin Smalley and Rebecca Wright. Jacob and Rebecca had 11 children. He was the first to use the last name Spafford with that spelling.
  27. Solomon Spofford. Born 21 Sep 1756 and died 2 Feb 1837 in Athol, Ontario. He Married Sally Sheldon. He had achieved the rank of Colonel in the army. He fought with the colonists in the Revolutionary War, but his allegiance changed and he fought with the British in the War of 1812, moving to Canada after the war ended. Solomon and Sally had 9 children.
  28. Abijah Pratt Spafford. Born ca 1787 and died 1842. Married Margaret Sheldon Ferguson, daughter of J. Ferguson and Polly Young. They had 9 children.
  29. Abijah Spafford. Born ca 1825 in Athol, Ontario, and died 4 Dec 1909 in Cherry Valley, Ontario. He had a paralyzing stroke in July of 1908. He married Anna Eliza Ketchum, daughter of Thomas H. Ketchum and Caroline Jackson. Abijah was a Methodist minister.
  30. Thomas Franklin Spafford. Born 16 Mar 1857, died Dec 1937, both in Cherry Valley, Ontario. Married Sarah Catherine Wood, daughter of Nehemiah Wood. He was a schoolteacher.
  31. Marcus Vernon Spafford. Born 11 Jan 1883 Sophiasburg, Ontario, and died 23 Jun 1948 in Rochester, NY. He married Ila Maude Foster, daughter of William Asa Foster and Lucritia Iantha Anderson. They emigrated to the US ca 1902, and he worked as a foreman in the film doping plant for George Eastman at Kodak. He became a naturalized US citizen on 29 November 1921. Ila lived to age 100.
  32. Howard Franklin Spafford. Born 22 Apr 1918 in Rochester, and died 3 July 2007 in Hartford, CT. Married Elizabeth Ann Gallagher, daughter of Eugene Paul Gallagher and Ruby Viola Shoemaker. Howard served in WWII in an antiaircraft battery deployed in Europe. He later served as an accountant and financial officer for several small companies in the Rochester area.
  33. Eugene Howard Spafford. The current affront to civilization from the Spafford family.

John Spofford (#23) was the ancestor of almost all of the Spaffords, Spoffords, and similar in the US and Canada. A few others have since immigrated from other parts of the British Empire.

To the best of my ability to tell, there are no male heirs to this line after at least Thomas (#30), and possibly earlier — all lines end in daughters. If I were to somehow have sons at this point, I might try to name them Orm and Gamel.

Crest and Motto and Etc

The family motto has been rendered as Fidelis ad extremum or “Faithful to the extreme.” Another version has been “Rather Deathe than false of Faythe,” which is rather the same thing. Given some of the family history of continuing to serve on the losing side of disagreements long after the outcome was decided, this certainly seems apt!

A commercial service has a version of the Spafford coat of arms. This is one of two versions. The other version is shown to the right.

There have been a few notable Spaffords about. Check out the Wikipedia page for Horatio Spafford, for instance, especially if you think your luck is bad; the Spafford Center in Jerusalem is related.
Suzy Spafford is a notable cartoonist. Spafford Lake on the campus of UC Davis is named after a long-time administrator in the UC system, Ed Spafford. Roz Spafford is an award-winning author. George Spafford has coauthored several books with my former student Gene Kim.

There is a jam-rock band from Arizona named Spafford, although I have no idea why they picked that name.

NY State has a town of Spafford. I’ve been there — it is a pleasant little town in the Finger Lakes region.

There are other Spaffords about, if you know where to look for them, and many are worth finding.

Spofforth Castle

The ruins of Spofforth Castle still stand in the town of Spofforth. Actually, it is the remains of a fortified manor house, but at one point it would have been seen as a castle. Only the western part of the castle still stands — there was originally more to the East, North, and West. After the castle fell to ruins, the locals took a great many of the stones to build their homes, churches, and common buildings, thus leaving much less of the grandeur that was once there.

After William took Northumbria, he gave all of Gamelbar’s lands and manors to his buddy, William de Percy. Spofforth Castle was constructed in the 11th century. It seems likely (although there is no clear archeological evidence) that Spofforth Castle was built on the foundations of one of Gamelbar’s early homes.

Legend has it that the first version of the Magna Carta was drafted at Spofforth Castle!

One account notes that Harry Hotspur was born here at Spofforth Castle in 1364. He is a notable character in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV, as a friend of Henry V. In real life he also was a notable knight, who rebelled against King Henry IV and killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403.

The castle was ruined in 1461, after the Percys sided with Lancaster in the War of the Roses — and lost. Over 100 years later, the castle was restored, but it was not used as a primary residence and fell into disuse. It was last occupied in 1604, and again ruined in the civil war (1642-1651).

The castle has a ghost, too!

One might make the comment that the castle is like the Spafford authoring this blog — old, weathered, and in ruins.

Here is a video tour of the castle, taken in 2011, with silly music in the background.

This is a gallery of pictures I took in August 2013 of the castle and its interior:

Historic marker

Long view from ENE

NE side

East side & entrance

SE side, looking NW

SE side looking W

South side, outside

NE corner

North side

NW side & tower

NW base of tower, looking S

West side

Entering in via N wall

Inside undercroft, looking North

Inside undercroft, looking South

Inside undercroft, looking NE

Stairs in SE corner

Another view looking South

NW corner with chapel window

View to NE from inside

View to NW from inside

62 Responses to “Spafford/Spofforth Family History + Trivia”

  1. Peter David Spawforth Says:

    Excellent addition to our family history. Ralph Spofforth of South Africa wrote a family history in 1949. There was a Millennium reunion at Spofforth, UK, in 2000 with 150 descendants with the name attended. Thanks for all your efforts. We live about 20 miles from Spofforth at Newmillerdam, UK. Peter Spawforth, age 77 in 2013.


    • spaf Says:

      I vaguely remember hearing about Ralph Spofforth’s account, but I don’t think I have a copy. Do you know where I can find a copy?

      And thank you for the note!


      • Alex Spofforth Says:

        Hi – I have a transcript of Ralph’s book if any Spaffs/Spoffs want it?
        My grandfather met him and got a few copies typed up and we now have this in Word format
        I also have a lot of UK data on the Spofforths/Spaffords from the registers here having trawled through them and been through many Yorkshire graveyards – work in progress to write it up one day.
        Email to
        Best wishes all



    • Izaac Edward Spofforth Says:

      Thanks for this interesting article. I am a Spofforth from England its nice to see so many others all over the place.


  2. Gene Kim Says:

    Fascinating!!! Spaf, I will read this aloud to George sometime soon — you may not know that is completely illiterate. Well, used to be… I have taught him his to read at a 2nd grade level — we are all so proud…

    Cheers! Gene

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Charlotte Loggie Says:

    Excellent work, Gene! So glad you got to see the castle. I still have a package of materials I am putting together for you on Spafford history, particularly your Dad and grandfather Spafford.


  4. George Spafford Says:

    Third grade was the best five years of my life …. Hukt on Fonikz werkt fur me I will remember this Gene 🙂 CC:; From: Subject: Re: [New post] Spafford/Spofforth Family History & Trivia Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2013 06:41:31 -0400 To:

    Fascinating!!! Spaf, I will read this aloud to George sometime soon — you may not know that is completely illiterate. Well, used to be… I have taught him his to read at a 2nd grade level — we are all so proud… Cheers! Gene

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Denise in Kansas Says:

    We visited the castle in 2011 also–and are descended from some Ontario Spaffords who moved to Illinois in the 1840’s. Our line backwards is: Charles Spafford, born 1860 in Elwood, Illinois–his father Stephen Miles Spafford, born 1828 in Loughborough, Ontario–his father Moses born 1802 in Loughborough–his father Elijah born 1763 in Claremont, New Hampshire–his father Moses born 1732 in Rowley, Massachusetts. Charles Spafford, my great-grandfather had no male heirs either, but he had 2 brothers, so maybe there are some male heirs there! I would be interested in more on the Ontario Spaffords, if that is possible.


    • spaf Says:

      Moses, born 1732, was the 2nd-youngest child of Jonathan and Jemima — #24 in my list (Jacob, my #25 was 6th-youngest).
      I found a lot of information here:, although the index isn’t online.

      THe book shows that your (great-grandfather?) Charles C. was born March 23, 1859 rather than 1860; that he married Rebecca Ackroyd; and at the time of the book was living in Lyons, Iowa. (He’s index 3900 in the book; Stephen is 1879; Moses is 629).

      Rootsweb has a Spofford mailing list with an archive of material, some of which applies.


    • Wen Holup Says:

      Off the top of my head I can tell you we are, all things being relative, more closely related than some others because of the Claremont, NH connection. Wish I had seen this when I was out in KS a couple of years back. I would have liked to meet you. Love Spaf’s thoughts. What a great way to connect.


  6. Steve Iman Says:

    Thanks for the delightful account.

    I had a Spafford grandmother — daughter of a Civil War veteran from Ohio who got on a train in Laramie in 1900 and made her way to homesteading in Idaho.

    It’s thought that she descended from your Jonathan (#24) – “an old man not given to devotional feeling who hauled a kid around in a bag bu levee many eminent descendants in politics, finances, and literature. It seems that your your Jacob (#25) had brother John about eight years his elder though there is some thought that it might have been another John of Spafford history. Down through several Thomases of Oneida, some Spaffords headed to Freedom of Portage County of Ohio, along the canal. Ours seem to have left Oneida about 1852 as farmers to Ohio, and from there later to Eaton of Michigan.

    Your presentation is interesting, well done, and much appreciated.


  7. steve Says:

    I am the chairman of SPOFFORTH Cricket club, and i would like to help if i can. I live 3 miles away from Spofforth but kno the village quite well.
    The one thing we don:t know is the first coat of arms , family crest ? can you help



    • spaf Says:

      Hi, Steve. Thanks for the offer. According to the sign outside the grounds of Spofforth Caste (near the road) it states that stones from the castle were used to build several structures in town, including the church. If you ever manage to snap a few pictures of those, that would be appreciated. Plus anything else you think is interesting.

      As to the coat of arms/crest… I don’t know what to tell you other than what I found. My mother first investigated this about 40 years ago, and what she found was the same crest I have linked on the blog, although it was offered via a different company. The College of Arms would be the definitive source, but I have not yet inquired of them. (If any reader of the blog has done so, I would appreciate hearing about it!)


      • Ian spofforth Says:

        The coat of arms is not registered at the College of Heralds and therefore bogus. However the U K. Spofforths are registering a new one following the award of the O B E to David Mark Spofforth .


      • spaf Says:

        Do you have a copy of the new one somewhere?

        I seem to remember doing some research on this about 30 years ago, and there was something registered. I don’t have records of it……


  8. Launa Says:

    I have found this very interesting…thank you .We are from Artemas Spofford 1814 who had Artemas Austin Spofford 1839, . Artemas Austin changed his name to Austin and went by that name some time after his divorce from Mary R. Rogers about 1867 . He remarried Emma C Dodge Oct 13 1877 He had only one son by Mary R Rogers Spofford named Charles Austin Spofford born Sept 1867 in New Ipswich, Hillborough, New Hampshire. Charles Austin Spofford married Frances Marguerite Mann from St. George, Charlotte Co., NB Canada 6 Sept 1893. Artemas “Austin” Spofford had no children from Emma.his second wife.
    Charles Austin and Frances Marguerite Mann Spofford had only one son. Herman Francis Spofford born 25 Dec 1894 in Lynn, Essex, Mass.
    Charles Austin and Frances divorced. After the death of Frances 6 April 1902 in Boston, Mass., Frances Marguerite’s brothers came down from St. George, NB Canada and took 6 year old Herman Francis Spofford up to St. George, NB Canada to be raised by his Grandparents:. George and Henrietta( Bubar) Mann. Herman Francis grew up in St. George and married Viola Alice Fraser of St. George NB Canada. They had 10 children the oldest Frances Geraldine Spofford is my mother. This genealogy is true I have researched it some 20 years.
    Just thought you might be interested


  9. Allen Olson Says:

    Great bit of history, my mother was a Spafford. My grandfather was Theodore Allen , he was born in Belleville, Ontario, and then homesteaded in what was to become Saskatchewan, his father was a Theodore, his wife’s maiden name was Allen. There was a family reunion in the 1880s in the northeastern states. My grandfather had a book that was published for the occasion which contained the family history up to that date. I can remember Orm’s name in it and also that apparently one of the Spaffords was a high ranking clergy that was allegedly robbed by Robin Hood. Orm’s or Gamel’s name is in the Doomsday Book. Your article brought back fond memories. Mother would always cringe when anyone mentioned the Percys.

    Thank you

    Allen Olson


    • spaf Says:

      I have a copy of that book (difficult to find in paper) but there is a digital version online, linked in to this post and here.


    • Kathleen Says:

      My husband is a descendant of Orm. The family has researched it back starting in Townsend, Massachusetts with Daniel Spofford. My daughter has also done research on my side of the family. I’m a descendant of Richard Warren and George Soule who came America on the Mayflower. In her research of my family she found we are also descendants of William the Conquerer. How interesting family histories are.


  10. Roz Says:

    Dear Spaf,
    Thank you for the very kind mention, and for this history and lineage. I see now how we are related: you are descended from Abijah Spafford and I am descended from his brother Ira. You’ve probably seen this chart; I found it illuminating.

    Roz Spafford


  11. Peter David Spawforth Says:

    Delighted that you have managed to get Ralph’s history back onto the web. I was in contact with Bob Spofford in USA last year and we were concerned to get it on a page somewhere. Keep in touch.


  12. Barron Tenney Says:

    Good Afternoon,

    Are you a member of the Spofford Family Association, and are you descended form John Spofford of Rowley, MA, circa 1643?

    If you are, there will be a 375th Heritage celebration on September 4-7, 2014 that you and your family might want to attend as descendants of one of the original founders and settlers or Rowley, MA. Gather the brothers. sisters, cousins, etc.

    If you are not a member, would you please put me in touch with someone that is?

    Please let me know?

    Lord, grant me the courage to bring a little bit of your good news into the world today, whatever the circumstances may be. Amen.

    Barron Tenney
    Member Tenney Family Association


  13. Charles Wiltsie Spofford Says:

    Thanks for a great addition and clarification to a family tree that my grandmother constructed before she died about 40 years ago. The following link on the Spofford’s of Georgetown (nee Rowley) has put together a very clear picture from John #23 (first to America) to the early American branches, including yours and mine:

    John #24 had 9 children (two Sara’s) and my g^6 grandfather, (Captain)John, plus your Jonathon (#25) per below:



    1. *ELIZABETH, b. Dec. 14, 1646; m. Alex. Sessions.
    2. *JOHN, b. Oct. 24, 1648; m. Sarah Wheeler.
    3. THOMAS, b. Nov. 4, 1650; m. Abigail Haggett (probably a daughter of Henry Haggett), Sept. 22, 1668.
    4. *SAMUEL, b. Jan. 31, 1653; m. Sarah Birkbee.
    5. HANNAH, b. Apr. 1, 1654.
    6. MARY, b. 1656; m. (???) Hunnewell; held property in Westchester, N. Y.
    7. SARAH, b. Jan. 15, 1658; d. Feb. 15, 1660.
    8. *SARAH, b. Mar. 24, 1662; m. Richard Kimball.
    9. FRANCIS, b. Sept. 24, 1665; m. Mary Leighton, daughter of Richard Leighton. He (Francis) d. prior to 1724, probably childless.

    John #24
    Married March 9, 1675; lived on the site of the original settlement on Spofford’s Hill, in what is now Georgetown, where he died April 27, 1696-97, being interred in the old cemetery in Bradford, where his gravestone may now be seen. His widow, Sarah Wheeler, married Caleb Hopkinson, Sr., of Bradford, now Groveland, June 12, 1701, and died Oct. 24, 1732, aged 80. Gravestone in Groveland Cemetery.
    19. *JOHN, b. June 12, 1678; m. Dorcas Hopkinson.
    20. MARY, b. Mar. 9, 1680; m. John Hartshorn, Sept. 22, 1707.
    21. DAVID, b. Nov. 23, 1681; d. 1717; gravestone in Bradford Cemetery,
    where the name is spelled Spafard.
    22. *JONATHAN, b. May 28, 1684; m. Jemima Freethe.
    23. *MARTHA, b. May 16, 1686; m. Caleb Hopkinson.
    24. EBENEZER, b. June 14, 1690; d. June 29, 1690.
    25. NATHANIEL, b. Sept. 10, 1691; bapt. at Bradford, Feb. 24.
    26. SARAH, b. Dec. 20, 1693; m. Samuel Kimball, Jan. 1, 1813.

    I believe that our branch of the Spofford family is well populated and there are many male heirs to Gamelbar carrying the Spofford name. One of the better known was my great-great grandfather, Aynesworth Rand Spofford who was the 3rd Librarian of Congress, an empire-builder and actual librarian, appointed by Lincoln. During his long tenure he built it from a small reading room to a truly great library in a magnificent building on the Hill in DC.

    Thanks again for the great history of rthe English side,
    Chuck Spofford


    • Donna Morelli Ford Says:

      I mentioned, some time ago, that I have papers from a reunion in Georgetown, MA in 1888. I will try to get them scanned. I apologize for not sharing them sooner. They are copies and hard to read but a great look into that time and that reunion on Spofford Hill. Your great-great grandfather is mentioned, Aynesworth Rand Spofford as the honored speaker. My son discovered his service to the Library of Congress after I told him I didn’t recognize the name. There is a coat of arms and motto. I have barely traced my Spofford family but I do know my great grandmother was at the reunion, according to my grandmother. My great great grandmother was Ella M. Spofford, daughter of William H. Spofford and Delia Swan (Also shown in 1855 records as Phidelia Spofford and as Fidelia Swan in 1865). I have a sampler completed by Fidelia Reed Swan in 1837 when she was 13 years old, a real treasure. So, the first male Spofford relation that is mentioned would be my great-great-great grandfather, believed to be born in Andover, MA. I keep looking for connections here as I’ve not done a real ancestry search but know we are all related…somehow. I hope what I share is of interest.

      The Sampler has a saying beneath three sets of ABC’s (in upper case and lower case print as well as more scripted upper case). The saying, best I can tell:

      “In books or work or healthy Play
      Let my first hours be Past
      That I may give for every day
      Some good account at last

      The sampler is very faded but is in an old frame with bits of gold leaf and wavy glass. I don’t know when it was framed but it was in my grandmother’s living room, in Wakefield, MA, as long as I can remember.
      Peace to all.


      • Donna Morelli Ford Says:

        I failed to mention my great-great grandmother’s (Ella’s) siblings, so I am listing the children of Fidelia Reed Swan and William H. Spofford. Ages are given from the 1865 US Census. Clara L. Spofford 16, Ella M. Spofford 12, Charles F. Spofford 8, Anna J. Spofford 7. At the time they lived in Lawrence Ward (Essex) MA. The 1850 US Census showed a 1 year old child, Hannah F. Edson, not sure of the relation or if it was their own child who did not survive. More than you might want to know, but sharing what I have.


  14. Letting Go | Spaf's Thoughts Says:

    […] spaf on Spafford/Spofforth Family Hist… […]


  15. Catherine Harper Says:

    Thanks for the great information. I am selling a vellum mortgage deed on Ebay for Robert Spofforth who appears to be related (?cousins) to Pilgrim Father John.

    Here’s is the link:

    Yours faithfully

    Yorkshire UK


  16. Suizy Spafford Says:

    Fascinating! My Spafford line branched off through John #24 & Sarah Wheeler, their son Samuel, b. 1653. Samuel #1’s son Thomas, 1678; Tom’s and Bethiah’s son Samuel #2 b. 1718; Sam #2’s son Amos #1, b. 1753 in Litchfield, CT to Ft. Meigs, Ohio m. Olive Barlow from Vermont to Perrysburg Ohio, their son Sam #3 [look up “Spafford Bell, Perrysburg, Ohio” for the story–and also “Spafford House” — some Maumee River area history]; Samuel #3’s son Amos #2, b. 1811 (went off to the Calif. Gold Rush 1851, never returned); Amos #2’s son John Berger Spafford, b. 1839 (one time mayor of Tama, Iowa); son John Hunt Spafford, b. 1862; John H. m. Agnes M. Carmichael, their son Lawrence Ara Spafford of Perrysburg, b. 1891; Lawrence & Helen’s son John Lester Spafford, b. 1915; and finally, myself, Suzanne Spafford, b. 1945, Toledo. Ohio, now of San Diego. So that is my line. I am the cartoonist (Suzy’s Zoo) you mentioned. My dad John L. charted a marvelous family tree that shows the above, and so much more. I saw where the Jarvis Spaffords link in, too. I have a sister Sally and a brother, John Bradley Spafford, with 3 daughters. We look to you other Spaffords to carry on this long and wonderful line!
    Suzy Spafford Lidstrom


  17. Lawrence Dunlap Says:

    Great site. Anyone related to Jacob Spofford and Rebecca Smalley (Conn/USA) born circa 1720’s should complete their line through Rebecca. Three Mayflowers, and one of them, Stephen Hopkins, was also a Jamestown settler of 1610. He was part of the Third Resupply Convoy of 1609. They were shipwrecked on a reef in Bermuda, rebuilt two ships from the remains of their ship “Sea Venture”, and made it to Jamestown in 1610. Only 60 were alive there. He stayed 4-5 years, returned to England to find his wife dead and children in the Poorhouse. He worked to restore his family, and came back over with them on the “Mayflower” in 1620. They were the first Englishmen to land in Bermuda. Shakespeare is said to have written “The Tempest” about the voyage and fashioned Stephano after Stephen Hopkins.
    Lawrence Dunlap


  18. Wynne Osborne Says:

    Loved the research and the photos. I am researching my husband’s family. They are linked to the Chase family. In 1814, Lucy Spofford Felt married Merrill Chase. Lucy is the daughter of Eldad, son of David, son of Jonathon, son of John Spofford and Sarah Wheeler.
    Wynne Osborne


  19. Jason Spafford Says:

    I’ve read this several times over the past years. Great fun to come back and read it. My 9 year old son is utterly fascinated with the lineage. I tried to convince my wife to name my son Gamel, but she didn’t bite. I even proposed first name Gamel and middle name Bar. No go. Maybe my son Hoyt will have a better shot at naming a son Gamel or Gamelbar.

    I recently wrote a screenplay based on the 2008 book about Anna and Horatio Spafford. Another very interesting Spafford story.

    Jason Spafford


  20. htttp:// Says:

    I was wondering about the Gamel mentioned herein. I’ve been doing research on the Stallings family,, which apparently began in England with Odo FitzGamelin, Odo son of Gamel. This Gamel was associated with Meaux Abbey and surrounding areas in Yorkshire. He was born in Meaux, France, and was a leader of a portion on Williams’s army. Any ideas? Thanks. Mary Ann Stallings Kincer


    • spaf Says:

      I don’t have anything in my records that would show a connection. However, my understanding is that Gamel was a somewhat common name at the time, so it is not necessarily the case your Gamel was related to the Spofforth Gamel. The Spofforth estates and Beaux Abbey are about 100km apart…


  21. jared spafford Says:

    I’m so so glad to have to stumbled up on your page. THANK YOU for the immense amount of work you’ve done and now shared! Having grown up in the states, family lineage is not really something that is held very dearly, and I’ve recently begun to attempt to dig through my ancestry. I’m curious if you are aware of where Horatio Gates fits in? My grandfather, Wilbur Lester, was born 1917 in Macedon NY, a small town outside Rochester, and had a brother Horatio as well. My father is not familiar with the Howard Franklin and I find it interesting that he and my grandfather were born a year and about 30 miles apart but there is no knowledge of him. I’ve got a small amount of historical data than an uncle has compiled that I’d be happy to share with you if your interested!


    • spaf Says:

      According to my sources, there were two Horatio Gates Spaffords.

      The first Horatio Gates Spafford, LL.D., was born Feb 18, 1778. He was the 4th (of 12) children of Col. John Spafford and Mary Baldwin. H.G. was married twice — first to Hannah Bristol, in 1800, and then to Elizabeth Hewitt.

      The second Horatio Gates Spafford was a child of the above Horatio and Elizabeth. He was born Oct 20, 1828 and married Anna Tubena Larson Sept 5, 1861. This is the Horatio Gates Spafford who moved to Palestine, and whose 4 children died in the shipwreck. He is one who is described in Wikipedia.

      Colonel John’s father was Jacob, #26 in the list in the main post.

      There were several Spaffords in Western NY when I was a child there, and most of them appear to have never heard of each other.


      • Djemila Cope Says:

        Horatio Gates Spafford married to Elizabeth Hewitt was my great-great grandfather. He wrote the first Gazetteer of New York State. He lived and died at Lansingburgh NY on the Hudson. The town of Spafford NY in the Finger Lakes area is named after him. His son Horatio Gates Spafford II lost 4 daughters in a mid-Atlantic shipping disaster, his only son Horatio died of scarlet fever aged 3 but he and his wife Anna did later end up with 2 surviving daughters, Bertha and Grace, who accompanied their parents to Jerusalem in 1881.


  22. Peter Spawforth Says:

    Good to see how this blog is progressing. Best wishes to those in USA and elsewhere from the Yorkshire UK family.


  23. Victoria Hinzman Says:

    Hello, I just found your post here about the Spofford/Spafford Family. I’m a descendent of John Spofford & Elizabeth Scott Spofford thru son John Spofford & Sarah Wheeler thru son Jonathan Spofford & Jemima Freethe. Then thru their son Joseph Spofford & Mary to their daughter Judith (Judah) Spofford who married Elihu Grout who is a descendent of John Spofford’s (1611-1678) older sister Ann Spofford Swan (1604-1658)
    Nice to find your post & are we connected to Charlemagne & the Magna Carta?
    Is there documentation of all this?
    Thanks, Victoria H.


  24. Peter Spawforth Says:

    Good to see you all in USA are thriving well. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018 from the Spawforths of Wakefield UK and near Spofforth village


    • Donna Ford Says:

      I am reading this thread while on the train from Philadelphia to Richmond, Virginia, back home where I recently moved to Midlothian, just southwest of Richmond. I want to plan a trip to England, don’t know when or how, but my great, great grandmother was a Spofford who married a Farrington. My great grandmother handed down original papers (now, pretty much in shreds) from the reunion in Georgetown, Massachusetts in 1888. I believe she was 8 years old. The papers (I have copies that aren’t falling apart) show a coat of arms, songs that were sung, the program and details of train travel. I am thankful to have them. While I haven’t begun to do the research that others have, I am interested in seeing how our family connects…and seeing Yorkshire. Someday!


  25. Morton D Hurt Says:

    Morning Spaf,

    I contacted you a number of years ago regarding my connection to the Spafford family. Largely with the assistance of DNA I can find my way to the Spafford Family. Alas, my efforts to find supporting evidence as to the Mother and Father of my Maternal great great grandmother Mary Lucretia Spafford Harris have proved inconclusive. I went as far as contracting with Ancestry to assist me in my efforts. After almost a year Ancestry could only hypothesize my Mary Lucretia was the daughter of Jehiel Spafford, ancestry noted while I have a number of 4th cousin DNA matches it would be helpful if I could show some 3rd Cousin Matches.

    Spaf, I feel you are my last hope to prove my family connection to the Mayflower. Any help you provide will be gratefully appreciated.

    Thanks for everything,

    Morton Hurt


  26. Don spafford Says:



  27. fiona hardy Says:

    hello. Does anyone know anything about an Elizabeth Spofferth, born 1729, married to William Riddle, born 1725. Both, I think in Ireland, possibly county great great grandmother. maybe!


  28. Andrew Martin Says:

    Hello, just found this thread while doing my own separate research. For anyone who may be interested, Col John Spafford and his Wife I believe, Hannah, are buried in a very old private family cemetery (not my family), behind my familys house, in a small town in Northern New York called Lowville.


    • spaf Says:

      When/if you get a chance, would you mind uploading or sending me a picture of their graves?


    • Djemila Cope Says:

      Colonel John Spafford is my 3 times great grandfather buried at Lowville NY. His wife Hannah is buried with her son and daughter in law in the cemetry at Rutland VT which I was able to visit several years ago. John served in the militia under Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen in the Revolutionary war and farmed at Tinmouth VT before moving to Lowville NY.


    • Djemila Cope Says:

      A correction to my earlier comment regarding the wife of Colonel John Spafford. Her name was Mary Baldwin, not Hannah, and when the Colonel died in Lowville NY she returned to Rutland VT where she is buried alongside her son Hemon Spafford and his wife Betsey in the Rutland cemetry.


  29. Robert Ravas Says:

    Good morning Spafford cousin, Found your interesting Spafford blog. My 4th great grandfather was Ira Spafford, son of Solomon, and looks like brother of your ancestor Abijah. My gradmother on my mother’s side was named Cyprianna Spafford. I don’t know if you know but we are Mayflower descendants from Stephen Hopkins. The connection is from Rebecca Smalley wife of Jacob Spafford. I am a member of the Mayflower Society in Illinois. (Live in Orlando FL now.) My research took about five years and I am happy to share it with any of the Spafford relations who are interested and visit your site. Next year is the 400th celebration of the Mayflower landing. I visited Spofforth Castle a few years ago – a very moving experience! Anyway nice to meet you. Best, Robert


  30. Peter Spawforth Says:

    Hello again Spaf. Today I passed on a link to your blog to the Facebook site “Memories of Wakefield” in UK where the Spawforths are all descended from. Amazing response from those of our name in New Zealand, Australia and Canada. The world is getting smaller as the Internet develops. Best wishes to the greater family in USA.


  31. Andrew Spafford Says:

    Great read and as inspired me to look at our branch of the family tree.
    I was born and raised in Yorkshire.
    Andrew Spafford.


  32. Djemila Cope Says:

    I am descended from John Spofford and Elizabeth Scott of Rowley MA via Horatio Gates Spafford and Anna Larson and their elder surviving daughter Bertha Spafford Vester. I am familiar with the Spafford genealogical story but was glad to have it presented in detail. I am a Trustee of the Spafford Childrens Center in East Jerusalem.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Elaine Says:

    Hi All!
    I’m from the John/Elizabeth line stemming from #4 child Samuel. It’s great to be able to trace our family back so far and amazing to read some of their history. My aunt had done a great deal of research to get it back to Orm as well so glad to be able to see documents confirming the lineage. Now we just need “someone” to take the information we have and go forward with additions to keep the line going. I know my line has stopped with my nephew as he recently passed w/no children but I do have cousins that may have carried us on. I also was able to acquire a set of books compiled by Ainsworth Rand Spofford (from the #2 child John line–a very distant cousin at best!) found here in WA state. We are a BIG family!


  34. elsie schneider Says:

    my name is elsie schneider. i am in canada. according to family search my george williams is the son of richard williams, and sophia spafford. daughter of col.john spafford. i am having a hard time finding his birth information linking him to sophia. he was born 1813-1880 and married catherine kate jones. buried in greenwood cem.burlington,ontario. my email address is can someone please help me. thank you, regards, elsie


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