Select Ford Surname Genealogy

Ford is one of the oldest locational surnames, from the Old English ford - meaning a shallow place in the river for crossing.  It described either someone who lived by a ford or who came from a place named Ford (of which there were many in England). 

Select Ford Resources on The Internet

England.  The surname is to be found throughout England, but with a slanting towards the west country - from Devon to Lancashire. 

The Ford name in Somerset may date back to the 13th century.  Fords from that county came to Cork in Ireland in 1585 as part of the Protestant settlement there.

The Fords of Bagtor in Ilsington were local gentry in Devon in the 16th century.  Fords were also farmers at Branscombe in east Devon at that time.  William Braddick Ford who farmed there in the late 18th century kept a diary which has been preserved.  Another Ford family from Devon - who were to emigrate to New Zealand - have traced themselves back to William Ford of Woodleigh in south Devon in the late 18th century.

Ireland.  The Ford name can also be Irish in origin, either as an English implant or an anglicization of a Gaelic sept name:
  • one Forde family from Devon became landowners in Meath, Wicklow and county Down.
  • while the American auto maker Henry Ford had Irish roots, his ancestors in Cork having come there originally from Somerset.  
  • meanwhile a number of Gaelic septs adopted Ford as an anglicized form of their name, such as the O'Fuarain sept in Limerick.  Their name was sometimes seen as Forde or Fourde.
America.  The first Ford in America may well have been William Ford, a miller, who settled first in Duxbury in 1643 and later moved to Marshfield, Massachusetts.  Andrew Ford was recorded as a landowner in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1642 and his sons subsequently settled in Abington.  This line was covered in Elizabeth Stewartís 1968 book Descendants of Andrew Ford of Weymouth.

Irish Fords.  However, the larger number of Ford arrivals in America came from Ireland rather than from England.  Among these Irish Fords were:
  • William Ford who immigrated to America (possibly with two brothers) sometime in the 1770's.  He settled in Saratoga county in upstate New York.  One of his sons drowned in the Hudson river after a night of drinking in a tavern.  Other Fords of this family moved west to Ohio.
  • Patrick Ford who came to Boston as a young boy with his parents in 1846.  He made his name as the editor and publisher of the Boston Tribune in the years prior to the Civil War.  After the war he started up The Irish World in New York, a weekly journal that was to champion the Irish-American cause.  His nephew Austin Ford was also a publisher in New York.  Austin's family became missionaries.
  • William Ford, who left Cork in 1847 with his parents at the height of the potato famine for Dearborn, Michigan.   His son was the automobile pioneer Henry Ford.
  • and Michael and Catherine Ford from Roscommon, also fleeing the potato famine, who reached New York City in 1849.  They joined other Fords from Ireland that settled in Newark, New Jersey.
Canada.  Ernest Ford, reportedly disorderly, came to Toronto from Birmingham in England at the age of 11 in 1902, as part of a child immigration scheme.  He married there and had two sons - one Henry who was electrocuted at a railway station at the age of six and the other Doug who became a successful businessman.  Doug's sons Doug and Rob were both local politicians, Rob being the controversial mayor of Toronto from 2010 to 2014.

Select Ford Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Ford Names

John Ford  from Bagtor in Devon was a pre-Restoration playwright of the early 17th century.
Henry Ford was the founder of Ford Motor Company and of modern assembly line practice.
John Ford, born John Feeney to Irish parents, was one of the great American film directors of the 20th century.
Jerry and Eileen Ford founded the Ford Modelling Agency in New York in 1946 and ran it for fifty years.
Whitey Ford of the New York Yankees was a leading baseball pitcher of the 1950's.
Gerald R. Ford was the 38th President of the United States.  He took the name Ford from his stepfather.
Harrison Ford is an American actor best known for his Indiana Jones films.  He like Henry Ford is of Irish descent.

Select Fords Today

  • 54,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 68,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 35,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page