This interesting surname, with variant spelling Bifield, is either of topographical origin from residence near a patch of open land, or locational from Byfield in Northamptonshire. The derivation in the first instance, is from the old English pre 7th Century "bi", (Medieval English "by"), meaning "by", plus the old English "feld", open country; hence, "bifeld", later "byfield". The Northamptonshire place, recorded variously as Bifelde in the Domesday Book of 1086, as Biffeld in the 1199 Pipe Rolls of that county, and as Bifeld in 1254, is believed to have as its first element the old English "byge" meaning "bend", plus "feld". Byfield is in the bend of a river; hence, "feld in the byge or bend". Early recordings of the surname include, John de Byfeld, the Hundred Rolls of Northamptonshire, dated 1273, and Adam Byfelde, (Gloucestershire, 1367). On September 24th 1632 Thomas Byfield and Margaret Douglas were married in St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts five bezants (gold coins) in saltire, and a gold chief on a blue shield. A man's head bearded, affrontee proper, and on the head a chapeau, is on the Crest. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nigel de Bifeld, (witness), which was dated 1202, "The Fine Court Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King John, "known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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