This very interesting surname is locational and derives from a 'lost' hamlet which was originally on the border of the West Riding of Yorkshire and Lancashire, near Todmorden. The modern surname is almost equally recorded in both counties, although almost all very early recordings are from Yorkshire, except oddly the very first as shown below. The development is the from the Olde English pre 7th century 'butor' meaning a bittern, a bird of the heron family renowned for its call at mating time, whilst the ancient 'feld' originally described an open area, one which had been cleared for agriculture.Paradoxically the later middle English 12th century 'field' actually describes a 'fenced area'. The early registers for the original 1379 Poll Tax include those of Willelmus de Bottesfeld and Isabella Botterfeld, both of the county of York, whilst in 1423 William de Butterfield (also recorded as Boterfeld) appears in the Wills List deposited at Chester, which suggests that he was from Lancashire or Cheshire. The Coat of Arms granted to the family has the blazon of a red field charged with a gold griffin segreant. The modern spelling forms also included Butterfint and Butterfill, whilst amongst the famous name holders are Swithun Butterfield of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, who is believed to have influenced Oliver Cromwell towards puritanism, and Robert Butterfield, also of Cambridge at the same time. The name has a long association with Universities as two hundred and fifty years later William Butterfield was, in 1876, the architect of Keble College, Oxford. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh de Buteresfeld, which was dated 1199, in the pipe rolls of Buckinghamshire, 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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