Origin of Kyffin

Introduction / Cyffin / Conway Castle / William Kiffin / Welsh Kiffins / Sir Kyffin Williams / Other Kiffins / Kabalarian Kiffin / More Kiffins


The name is K-I-F-F-I-N and the origins of this name are Welsh, or so they say. Ever since I was little, I have often wondered where my name came from and if there were any other Kiffins out there in the world someplace. I have yet to meet another Kiffin in person. Therefore, this page is dedicated to all the Kiffins out there or any other Kiffin-related folks, items, historical insights, etc.

Thanks to the advent of the Internet, a whole new world of information has been opened up for me. Now it is a question of running an advanced search on a given topic and having a little patience. I received alot of input from folks all over the world, in one way or another related in some way to the name Kyffin. For a more exhaustive source of information concerning the origins of the name Kyffin, check out the website at the Kyffin Family Genealogy Forum.

Via this geneology forum, I came across an extensive report called Kyffin and Cyffin: Old and Rare Family Names (doc - 75KB) which is available for those of you more interested. I want to thank the author Anthony Kyffin for providing this fine document and giving me permission to publish it here. In the introduction he writes: "Since early 1998, I have been researching my Kyffin family history and, in the process, have come across quite a lot of information about the origin of the name and the families with the surname."

Below are the results of my own personal research, and I would like to thank those involved for their kind assistance. Their names are indicated where appropriate.


The W common noun cyffin (pron. `cuffin) means `border, boundary' and therefore could form independent place-names in more than one area, including Cyffin, a township in Llangadfan, Montgomeryshire. Of one Madog Kyffin, W quotes from Griffith, 'He took the surname KYFFIN...., being nursed in a place of that name in Llangedwyn {Denbighshire}'. Richard Kyffin (c. 1480-1502), dean of Bangor, with an entry in DWB, is thought to have been Rector of GYFFIN in the diocese of Bangor. - John and Sheila Rowlands, The Surnames of Wales

William Kiffin

kiffin, william (man of faith)
William Kiffin, man of faith

"William KIFFIN in the time of King Charles was asked by King Charles for a loan of 40,000 pounds. William knowing he would never get his 40,000 pounds back and that he would lose his head if he refused, instead presented King Charles with a gift of 10,000 pounds. This way he did not refuse and only lost 10,000 pounds and saved his head. He in on the net. He was as they say the richest Baptist and the first of influence. In some of the documents I have it shows the marriage of John Kyffin son of Thomas Kiffin. It all depends on who wrote the Name. I am looking for a KIFFIN doing research ,but there doesn't seem to be any, although there are many Kiffins in the USA. The Thomas Kyffin m. to Sarah Edwards 1757 (from MOYSTON WALES) had parents who died in the plaque. We can't find where they came from or who they were. I am hoping some one with the name KIFFIN might solve this riddle." - Robert Kyffin

Conway Castle

Conway Castle
Conway Castle, this shows the bridge over the river Gyffin towards the Abbey entrance.

The origins of the family name Kyffen date back to the 15th century in north Wales where one can find in the Conway valley a river called Gyffin. At the time there lived an abbot in the Abbey Mainen, who as Welsh tradition required had collected a very long last name: the son-of-the-son-of-the-son with each name separated by "ap". Fed up with this, the abbot broke with tradition a decided to use a single surname, choosing the name of the river, but for some reason replacing the letter "G" to get Kyffin. Around that same time, the 2nd Tutor King Henry VIII broke from the Papacy in Rome. He went on a rampage in 1588 destroying anything remotely related to the Catholic Church, including the abbey. Forced to flee, the Kyffen family escaped to England, Canada and South Pategonia (where the famous painter Kyffen Williams come from). Some even fled to the Bohemian forest in Germany, where one can find the Kyffhauser Castle - Steven Kyffin

"The name Kyffin, with the Y pronounced as U (Cuffin) has a long history in North Wales, but I have not found any connection directly from my family to the Kyffin s. My grandparents named there only son Kyffin in 1921, he died at 5 years of age in 1926. I am named after him, but I don't know why he was named Kyffin. I think he may have been named after my grandfather's employer. My grandfather was a gardener and he worked for the Kyffin - Taylor family. The name Kyffin as a first name is unusual but not unique. The 1881 British census, which I have on CD lists 10 Kyffin's in Wales." - Kyffin Roberts

Welsh Kyffins

"The Dictionary of Surnames gives a concise definition borne out by the locations of the three ancient seats of the Welsh Kyffins. [1] Maenan which is close to the Parish of Gyffin in Caernarvonshire. [2] Glascoed and Bodfach, Montgomeryshire, both in close proximity to the English border. The English spelling Kiffin is as ancient, an example being WILLIAM Kiffin [1616 - 1701] who Macauley describes as '....the first man among the Baptists of wealth and station..' Born and based in London he had amassed a considerable fortune in the wool trade with Holland; such that he was asked for a loan of £40,000 by Charles 1! Kiffin was party to the welfare of the Huguenot refugees following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes...From my limited knowledge I'd say that Kiffins are relatively "young" Mervyn Jones

Sir Kyffin Williams

Sir Kyffin Williams
Sir Kyffin Williams famous modern painter.

"As near as I can tell, ' Kiffin' is an Anglicization of the Welsh name 'Kyffin', which is like 'Kevin' in modern speech. It comes from a local descriptor - "Kyffin" comes from the Latin "confinum" which means or barrier or abutment - when Latin blended with Celtic to for the Welsh language, it became " Kyffin" to denote a place at a border or on the edge of a territory and " Kyffin" the name denoted someone who lived on the border or near a barrier. The first instance that I can find was Madog kyffin ap Madog goch (Madddock of the border son of Maddock the red, who lived about 1300) - Madog kyffin was the common ancestor of all people with the surname Kyffin (and probably "Kiffin" although I don't know that for sure). He was a descendant of the Kings of Powys which is a principality on the borderlands of northeast Wales near present day Oswestry. The family is very old and very noble, although I think they have declined quite a bit over the last century or so. They are related to the Lord Mostyn somehow. The most famous Kyffin that I know of is Sir Kyffin Williams the famous Welsh artist who lives in Angelsey." - David C. Hill

Other Kiffins

"My Name is Mark Kiffin, son of Billy Kiffin. Look me up on the Internet, I am the chef and owner of The Compound Restaurant. My father is the cousin of Monte Kiffin, the Defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pro football team." - Mark Kiffin.

"Looking through the web I ran across the Kiffin Rockwell page. The Kyffin/Kiffin name comes from Wales. The I and Y are interchangeable in certain cases. On some of my ancestors records it lists the Father as Kiffin and right under it his son is Kyffin. My Kyffins come from North Wales. Mostly I think, then to Canada. It seems strange that there about 15 Kyffins in the USA and the name is there for us to send Queries. There are 40 Kiffins in the USA and no one is looking for Ancestors. Check out William Kyffin of the 1600's with AltaVista. He Was part of Cromwell's Parliament war against the Monarchy and the First and most influential among the Baptist at that time." - Bob Kyffin.

"The internet is as you mention a great storehouse of information, and I have enjoyed reading about the Kyffin name, I only wish my father had lived long enough to enjoy the internet as he was a keen researcher of the Kyffin name. The only input I can give you is of a John Kyffin who was the Vicar of Gresford Church 1467 to 1505 Gresford is a small village near Wrexham North Wales. Your Website is brilliant." - John Kyffin (Chester Cheshire, Great Britain).

"Kiffin is 21 years old, a real blonde, and works in the exclusive Jasmine Club on Regina Up Port, as a steward (hostess, bartender, cook, etc.). She has lived and worked there as part of an apprenticeship program for over a year.Some months before coming to work at the Jasmine Club, Kiffin was in a vehicle accident on Regina Prime, and sustained massive head injuries. She was not expected to recover, but regained consciousness after her father's business associate (art dealer) Mercer Black, arranged for her to be seen by specialists; Kiffin is very fond of Mr. Black, and knows him only as a very nice man who does business with her father, and was very good to them. Kiffin's injuries resulted in loss of almost all memories of her family (father, older sister, two older brothers) and life, and although she has retained skills, she doesn't remember learning them, and frequently doesn't know she has a skill until she actually does something. Kiffin enjoys her work, likes people, and is considered to be very open and friendly, if rather naive. Somewhat hampered by her lack of (remembered) life experiences, and with a tendency to react instinctively, Kiffin nonetheless is very intelligent and learns quickly." - Kiffin Brevette

"Thanks for the great website. I have two stories to relate. The first relates to me and the occasion of my birth. My grandmother is said to have commented when told I was to be named John, 'There are too many John Kyffins in the world.' I always took that to be quite funny until the advent of the internet. Then I found out that Grandma knew what she was talking about. The second has to do with my son. He moved to Portland, Oregon a few years ago. One day he and some co-workers went to a restaurant or bar. As he sat down he noticed a blackboard with a message saying 'Kyffin, please see the manager.' Having only been there once before, he was curious as to what the manager wanted with him. Turns out they had a waitress named Kyffin (firstname). So, it is a small world and you are bound to find a Kyffin/Kyffin/ Cyffin just around the next corner. Thanks again for your excellent website, and good luck on your Kiffin search. By the way, there was a football player at Nebraska, in the 60's, named Kiffin. He later became a coach in the NFL." - John Kyffin

Kabalarian Kiffin

Wandering aimlessly across the Internet, as usual in search for even more meaning in life, I just happened to come across the following trivial information on the Kabalarian Philosophy home page, under the male section for baby names. The Kabalarian Philosophy teaches "constructive living based on principles of right thinking, right breathing, and right eating. These principles provide the key to understanding how to control life to bring into reality the happiness, mental freedom, and personal success that everyone seeks." Hmmm. Believe it or not, my name was actually present. I have taken the liberty to quote the full desciption below. Or you can jump directly to this page. Alot of the items agree amazingly well with my personality, but there are others which are questionable. Can you find the differences? Read it carefully and hopefully I can provide a short analysis at the end for your entertainment.

"Your name of Kiffin has given you an idealistic nature with a desire to help others. Your initiative often causes you to be the first to act when you see a need. Since you are impressionable and receptive, you feel the misfortunes of others very keenly. However, this name makes it awkward for you to express your deeper thoughts and feelings with finesse and diplomacy to the extent that your candid, sometimes blunt, manner of speaking creates misunderstandings with others. Being somewhat self-centred, you learn through your own experiences, as you rarely take advice from others. Yet, you are sensitive and very easily hurt and offended. You long for praise and appreciation for your efforts, but others find it difficult to understand you. You dislike monotony and system and enjoy being creative in an inventive way whether it be in interior decorating, music, art, crafts, or other endeavours that require versatility and skill. You are imaginative and visionary, somewhat of a perfectionist, yet the results of your efforts often fall short of your high expectations. A leadership position appeals to you because you would enjoy directing others rather than being directed. Your feelings are strong and you tend to react intensely to situations. Because of your sensitive nervous system, over-stress and extreme tiredness could cause nervous disorders, seizures, fainting, or dizziness. You could also experience head tension such as headaches, weak eyes, or throat problems."

There is no time for analysis now, so I will leave that over to the kind reader who probably can make a more objective judgement concerning the description above. Good luck. Interested in other names? Click on any of the following links to jump directly to the Kabalarian Philosophy analysis: Rex, Colette, Jeanine, Kiffin, Kathleen, Martine, Clint, Lennart, Marlies, Sabien, Maarten. Of course, if you want to go directly to the search page and look up your own name go to www.kabalarians.com.

More Kiffins

Are you interested in learning about other Kiffins or were you also named after the famous Kiffin Yates Rockwell? If your answer is yes, then check out the Other Kiffins page for more information.

1 Comment

My name is Kiffen**) My research led to this discovery: In German, the word Kiffen is: 'slang for the action of smoking marijuana**) In Australian this slang came to mean: amazing feeling or wonderful 'thing - (as in: 'that's a kiffen wave!!!' **) Good to see other Kiffen's out there! That last descriptive analysis was VERY accurate about my personality**


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