This very interesting surname is now found in both Norfolk and London, but as shown below the early form "started" in London or did it? Every surname originally had a translatable spelling, it meant something. Over the centuries misspellings create names which no longer conform to that basic requirement, and clearly Critolph is one of them. We have no doubt that the derivation is from a personal name, and the only one which seems to comply is Christoph(er), the derived form of Christ, which was popular on the continent, but rarely in England. In fact the first recording of the surname in any form in England was "habitational" - deriving from a building in medieval London called "Sancto Cristofore" and producing the surname William Cristofre in 1317. Was this gentleman the ancestor of Robert Cretoff and the later Critoph's? It is probably not possible to give absolute proof, but certainly the original meaning cross checks with continental sources. Examples of the surname recording include Thomas Chritoffe who married Elizabeth Smith at Lammas, Norfolk, on September 21st 1640, in the reign of Charles 1 (1625 - 1649), and Anne Critofe who married William Woodyard at St. Andrews, Norwich on May 21st, 1700. Other recordings include Emma Critoph who married Ezekiel Stacy at St. George's Church, Norwich on January 1st 1838, and Elizabeth Critoph, who married Karl Gerfass at the church of St. John the Baptist, Shoreditch, on May 26th 1868. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Cretoff, which was dated November 9th 1607, a witness at the christening of his son, Robert, at St Antholins Church, London, during the reign of King James 1 of England & 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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