Taft


Select Taft Surname Genealogy

The early spelling was Toft, a term which described a low hillock where a homestead used to be.  Toft emerged as a place-name in various parts of England. 

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Select Taft Ancestry

England.  One origin for the Toft name is thought to have been the place-name of Toft in Cheshire.  Daniel Toft was recorded in Bosley, Cheshire in 1625.  The name also cropped up in the vicinity of Norwich at this time. 

As Taft, it has been most common in the adjacent counties of Derbyshire and Staffordshire.  Thomas Taft was born in Ticknall, Derbyshire in 1641.  A Taft family, tenants of the Earl of Chesterfield, were horse trainers in Derbyshire in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  And a Taft line in Cheadle, Staffordshire began with Elixabeth Toft in the 1750's.  Some 45% of the Tafts in the 1881 census were recorded in these two counties.

America.  Robert Taft, of uncertain origins, arrived in New England in the 1670's and began a homestead in Uxbridge, Massachusetts a decade later.  The Taft family of Uxbridge were to remain a fixture there for the next two hundred years, contributing five generations of Massachusetts legislators and public servants.  Their family home Elsmdale, built in 1807, was the focus of many a subsequent Taft reunion.

One branch of the Taft family moved to Vermont around the year 1800.  The story is told that, due to the difficult times, Peter Rawson Taft walked a cow there all the way from Uxbridge, a distance of more than a hundred miles.  His son Alphonso headed west to Ohio in 1839.   Another Taft line in Vermont made its way in the 1860's to Iowa and then to Oklahoma.

Alphonso Taft, who founded the Skull and Bones society as a student at Yale and was later US Secretary of War and Attorney General, was the first of the Taft political dynasty:
  • his eldest son Charles developed a newspaper empire and later owned the Chicago Cubs baseball team.  The town of Taft in Texas was named after him. 
  • a later son William Howard Taft became US President in 1909 and US Chief Justice in 1921. 
  • while William's son, grandson, and great grandson all served as either Senator or Governor for Ohio.
Select Taft Miscellany

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


Select Taft Names

Robert Taft Sr. who came to Massachusetts in the 1670's was the forebear of the Taft family in America.
Alphonso Taft was the patriarch of the Taft political dynasty in Ohio.
William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States, from 1909 to 1913.

Select Tafts Today
  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous in Staffordshire)
  • 3,000 in America (most numerous in New York) 
  • 500 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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.

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