Despite its very English appearance, this rare surname registered in the spellings of Courtlove, Courtliffe and Courtliff is in fact French. It is a Huguenot refugee surname which is apparently first recorded in England in the early seventeenth century (see below) as 'Courtelo', when Matterne Courtelo, the son of the first name holder was christened. This form seems to have been 'anglicised' within a short time, as no further recordings have been found in that spelling, but this is probably because of lost registers. On February 2nd 1641 Edward Courtlove married Mary Shafter at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, whilst the same people are recorded at St Pancras Old Church, London, on December 2nd 1642, when their daughter Elizabeth was christened. It would seem that on April 10th 1655 during the 'reign' of Oliver Cromwell (1652 - 1658), one Edward Courtlove, who may have been the same Edward Courtlove of London, married Alice Clark at Tamworth, Warwickshire. In the mid 19th century the name appears in Lancashire as 'Courtliffe', John Courtliffe and his wife Mary being recorded at St Peters, Liverpool, on December 13th 1858. On July 13th 1863 the same John is recorded in the same church but now in the spelling of 'Courtliff', a form which has remained to this day. The name translates as 'the dweller at the court yard', and was originally recorded in France as 'Courtal'. The Coat of Arms granted in Lorraine, has the blazon of a red field, a stags head in silver between three gold bezants. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jehan Courtelo, which was dated October 23rd 1610, at the French Church, Threadneedle Street, London, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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