a surname, originally Giffard, signifying the Liberal, first conferred
on Walter, Count de Longueville, a kinsman of his own, who came over
with William the Conqueror. This Walter Giffard was nephew of Gunnora,
duchess of Normandy, the Conquerors great-grandmother. Having
distinguished himself at the battle of Hastings, William created him
earl of Buckingham, and bestowed on him in that county 48 lordships or
baronies, besides 85 in other parts of England. Several English families
of the name are noted in Dugdale. Fonthill in Wiltshire, celebrated for
its abbey, belonged to one of them, and is still called Fonthill-Giffard.
Two of the
race came to Scotland under David the First, Hugh, and William, the
latter supposed to be an ecclesiastic. The former obtained extensive
lands in East Lothian, where he settled. His son, also named Hugh
Gifford, witnessed many of the charters of King William the Lion, under
whom he rose to distinction, and in 1174 was one of the hostages for his
release. From that monarch he obtained the additional lands of Yestred (Cambro-British
Ystrad, the strath or vale), now Yester, and in process of time
the parish of that name in East Lothian came to be popularly called
Gifford. The village of Gifford is remarkable as the birthplace of John
Knox. A rivulet which runs through the parish is also called Gifford.
His eldest son, William Gifford of Yester, was sent on a mission to
England in 1200, and also witnessed several charters of William the
Lion. In 1244 he was one of the guarantees of a treaty with England. His
son, Hugh Gifford of Yester, was one of the guardians of Alexander the
Third and his queen; and one of the regents of the kingdom appointed by
the treaty of Roxburgh, 20th September, 1255. According to
the practice of feudal times, he had his own sheriff. His castle of
Yester was celebrated on account of a capacious cavern, called Bohall
(Hobgoblin Hall), which makes a conspicuous figure in Sir Walter Scotts
Marmion. He died in 1267, leaving three sons, William, Hugh, and
James. The two latter swore fealty to Edward the First in 1296. Hugh was
the reputed ancestor of the Sheriffs of Sheriffhall in Mid Lothian, a
family which, in the person of John Gifford of Sheriffhall, was
forfeited by King James the Third, for keeping company with the English,
and entertaining the English pursuivant, called Bluemantle.
Gifford of Yester, the eldest son, was in Stirling castle when it
surrendered in 1304, and being sent prisoner to England, was confined in
Corfe castle till 15th June 1310. His son, Sir John Gifford
of Yester, by marriage with the daughter of Sir Thomas Morham of Morham,
obtained the lands of that name. With his son, Hugh Gifford of Yester,
who was dead before 11th March 1409, the male line failed.
The latter had, however, four daughters, his coheiresses. 1st,
Jean, or Joanna, married Sir William Hay of Locherworth, sheriff of
Peebles, ancestor of the marquis of Tweeddale, to whom she brought the
barony of Yester, and that family quartered the arms of Gifford with
their own. 2d, Alice, married Sir Thomas Boyd of Kilmarnock; 3d, Mary,
married Eustace Maxwell of Tealing; 4th, Euphemia, married
Dougal Macdougall of Makerstoun. Nisbet mentions a family f the name of
Gifford who possessed the lands of Busta in Zetland.
GIFFORD, Earl of,
a title of the marquis of Tweeddale. See TWEEDDALE, Marquis of.
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