This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and a locational surname deriving from an unidentified place thought to have been situated in Sussex, near Hurstpierpoint, or perhaps nearer to the border with Kent; the quantity of early recordings in both counties are suggestive of either situation. The placename is composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Ceatta", from "catte", cat, with "feld", pasture, open country, thus "Ceatta's feld". The term "feld" was used specifically of land cleared of forest, but not brought into cultivation, as opposed to, on the one hand, "aecer", cultivated soil, enclosed land, and on the other to "weald", wooded land, uncleared forest. Locational surnames were acquired especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Recordings of the name from Kent and Sussex Church Registers include the marriage of Ellinor Chatfeld and Harrey Bapshell on January 29th 1560, at Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, and the christening of Thomas, son of Thomas Chatfield, at Tonbridge, in Kent, on October 23rd 1597. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Chatfeeld, which was dated May 2nd 1542, marriage to Elizabeth Jordon, Balcombe, Sussex, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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