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Family History
Pettiford Family History
There is evidence from a NC State Public Record labeled the Pettiver Treason Document of 1732 (obtained by relatives Lisa Wood & Robert Jackson) to suggest that our Pettiford Ancestors may have initially been freed by a landowner by the name of Captain John Pettiver (also known as John Pettiford) of Hertford County (Edenton), NC. He had extensive land holdings in Craven, Carteret, & Granville Counties in North Carolina.

In August 1732, Captain John Pettiver was killed by his wife Anne Wilson and the overseer named Joseph Haynes. After the prosecution trial in which Anne and the overseer were found guilty and tried, hung and burned at the stake. The slaves residing on the property were used in the trial and said to have obtained their initial freedom. Their names were Tom, Primus, and Hannah. One of these persons may have been the original ancestors of the following three Free Pettiford men who lived in Granville County, North Carolina in the early 1700's.

Their names were Lawrence, Lewis, and George Pettiford; they were classified as Free Tithable (Tax Paying) Blacks.

  1. Lawrence was born in 1732 and died 1787
  2. Lewis was born in 1734
  3. George was born in 1736
According to early census records of Free Blacks, most Blacks either bought themselves out of bondage, married or mated with women who were not slaves and then their offspring were automatically born Free if the mothers' were not in servitude. Other Blacks earned their freedom by participating in the Revolutionary War in place of their White landowners. There is evidence in the 1790 and 1810 Census for North Carolina and Virginia to validate this information about active participation in the Revolutionary War.
Several men in the Pettiford Family applied for their pension from the Revolutionary War in the early 1800's. They were the sons of Lawrence Pettiford who was born (1732-1787). There names were William Pettiford (1761- 1836),  George Pettiford (1762-1853), Phillip Pettiford (1754-1825) and Valentine Locus - husband of Rachel Pettiford (1764-1852).

There is also other information on other Pettiford lineages originating from Granville, NC and surrounding counties not yet linked to these original ancestors although through verifiable census documentation, there is proof of intermarriage and bloodlines connecting through each Pettiford family detailed in this document through various other surnames.


William Reuben Pettiford
Banking pioneer of the 19th century.
ArticleArticle 2

Emma Heil Pettiford
Spiritual pioneer of the 20th century.
Founder of God's House Church Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Pettiford Indian Ancestry
Nansemond Indian Tribe

To Order the "Pettiford Crest"
Place Order

Origin of the Pettiford name

The name Pettiford comes from the ancient Norman culture that was established in Britain after the Conquest of 1066. It was a name for a person who never tired of walking or a soldier who had lost his foot in battle. The name Pettiford is an Anglicized form of the Old French word pedefer, or pied de fer, which means iron foot. The family name Pettiford was brought to England after the Norman Conquest, when William the Conqueror gave his friends and relatives most of the land formerly owned by Anglo-Saxon aristocrats. They imported a vast number of Norman French personal names, which largely replaced traditional Old English personal names among the upper and middle classes.

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Pettifer, Pettipher, Petipher, Petifer, Petiver and many more.

First found in Worcestershire where, they were seated after the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066 A.D., where the name meant literally "Petite" and "Fere," meaning "the little wild beast," a soubriquet which has been corrupted to Pettifer, although a distant relationship has been claimed to Potiphar, the Faro's Captain of the Guard.