Recorded as Chafer and Chaffer, this is an English medieval surname. It is occupational and has at least two possible origins, one of which may be French. This from the pre 10th century Olde French word "chaufeur", which has nothing directly to do with driving a vehicle, but describes the owner of a "chauffour", or limekiln. This was a word introduced by the Normans after thge 1066 Invasion when for three centuries Frencghwas the official language of England. An alternative and more likely origin is from the similar sounding Middle English word "chaffar", meaning one who trades, the ultimate origin being the Olde English "ceapfaru". This gives a result similar to the surname Chapman, which also means a trader or merchant. Occupational surnames were amongst the first to be created, but they did not usually become hereditary unless a son followed his father into the same line of business. In this case early examples of the surname recording include: John del Chaufeur in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of Yorkshire in the year 1301, and this is a definate reference to one who lived at a limekiln, although John Chaffar also recorded in Yorkshire, but in the Friary Rolls of 1360, is almost certainly a reference to a merchant. Over the centuries surnames have continued to develop. The general lack of education upto the Victorian times where only about one in ten of the public could read and write, and the local dialects which were extremely "thick", often lead to the introduction of variant surname forms or in this case, where the two base names are so similar, to a fusing of recordings.
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