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Taliaferro (/ˈtɒlɪvər/ TOL-i-vər), also spelled Talliaferro, Tagliaferro, Talifero, Tellifero or Taliferro and sometimes anglicised to Tolliver or Toliver,[1] is a prominent family in eastern Virginia and Maryland. The Taliaferros (originally Tagliaferro, Italian pronunciation: [ˌtaʎʎaˈfɛrro], which means "ironcutter" in Italian) are one of the early families who settled in Virginia in the 17th century. They migrated from London, where an ancestor had served as a musician in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. The surname in that line is believed to trace back to Bartholomew Taliaferro, a native of Venice who settled in London and was made a denizen in 1562.[2]

Arms of Tagliaferro family of Tuscany. Sketch sent from Thomas Jefferson to George Wythe, 1786

The origins of the Taliaferro name were of interest to George Wythe, a Virginia colonial lawyer and classical scholar, who had married a Taliaferro. Wythe urged his former student and friend Thomas Jefferson to investigate the name when Jefferson traveled to Italy. Jefferson later reported to Wythe that he had found two families of the name in Tuscany, and that the family was of Italian origin.[3] Jefferson enclosed his sketch of the coat of arms of the Tagliaferro family as reported to him by a friend in Florence, Italy.[4]



It is the surname of the following persons:




Middle name[edit]

It is the middle name of the following persons:

Given name[edit]

It is the first name of the following persons:

  • Toliver Craig, Jr., representative in the Kentucky General Assembly
  • Toliver Craig, Sr. (first called Taliaferro Craig), 18th-century frontiersman and militia officer
  • Taliaferro Sidney Evans, Major, 11th Mississippi Regiment, CSA: died in the Cornfield Charge at Sharpsburg, 17 Sept. 1862.
  • Taliaferro Clark, MD, served as chief of the United States Public Health Service Venereal Disease Division and author of the Rosenwald Study report (1932) for the Tuskeegee Syphilis Experiment.


Art, entertainment, and media[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]

Characters with the surname[edit]

  • Roy Tagliaferro, an alias of serial killer Red John, in The Mentalist
  • Paul Taliaferro, a character in David Weber and Steve White's science-fiction novel The Shiva Option (2002)
  • Peachey Taliaferro Carnehan, a character in Rudyard Kipling's short story "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888)
  • Penelope Taliaferro Russell, secretary to John Joseph Bonforte in Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star (1956)
  • Roderick Taliaferro, the title character in George Cram Cook's first novel, Roderick Taliaferro: A Story of Maximilian's Empire (1903), with illustrations by Seymour M. Stone

Characters with the given name[edit]

  • Tolliver Groat, Junior Postman, later Senior Postman and Postal Inspector in Ankh-Morpork, the fictional capital of Discworld
  • Tolliver Lang, the stepbrother of the protagonist of The Harper Connelly Mysteries

Other uses[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Toms, Gary R. & Pylant, James (April 9, 2006). "Talliaferro is Tolliver: Surnames Sound a Challenge for Researchers". 13 (1 & 2). Retrieved January 6, 2007. 
  2. ^ Wagner, Anthony Wagner & Andrus, F. S. Andrus (January 1969). "The Origin of the Family of Taliaferro". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 77 (1): 22.  Part One.
  3. ^ Harris, Malcolm Hart Harris (2006). Old Kent County, Some Account of the Planters, Vol. 1. Baltimore, Md.: Reissued by Genealogical Publishing Company. 
  4. ^ The American Heraldry Society (2008). "Taliferro Coat of Arms". The American Herald (3).