FYI, Two main items to note here. As far as I can tell there are two main groupings of Whitefords from the British Isles, one based in Scotland, from which I am decended, and one based in Cornwall, England. Both I believe named after local geographic features (ie fords in rivers!). Also there are Whitfords originating from England, not sure of origination of these families. Second point is as you have already mentioned, once you go back a few years the instance of exact spellings as we know today depends on how the person hearing the name decided to spell it at the time. I have ancestors who spelt their name with and without the e, with an extra o and with a y instead of an i. As far as I can tell according to how they felt on the day!