Recorded in many disparate spellings, including Bantaff, Bantoff, Bentiff, Bentoff, Buntoff, Bantoft, Bontoft, Buntoft, Bountiff, and no doubt other, this is apparently an English surname. It is believed to be locational from a 'place,' but as to where this is or was, we have been unable to prove. A suggestion has been made that all the spellings are some form of Burmantofts, a former village which is now swallowed up in the city of Leeds, in West Yorkshire. Another suggestion, is that of a "lost" medieval village. Some three thousand surnames of the British Isles are known to originate from such places, but again we have not been able to prove this origin. As to why villages became "lost" and abandoned has been the subject of several books. As a generalisation it was either through changes in agricultural practices, or natural events such as the infamous plagues which swept the country between the 13th and 17th centuries, or even war. Whatever the reason, people who left their original homes, were then often given as their surname, the name of their former home. Spelling being at best rudimentary, and local accents very thick, lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings. In this case examples of the surname taken from the surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London include: Samuel Bantaff at St Katherines by the Tower (of London), on May 7th 1732, and Mary Bontoft, who married John Harper at the same church, but over a century later on February 15th 1863.
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