This rather unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from a hamlet so called near Widnes, Lancashire. The placename derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "dic," meaning a ditch or dyke (usually constructed for purposes of defence rather than drainage), plus "feld", pasture or open country; hence, "defensive earthwork on cleared land". Locational surnames, such as this, were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were there after best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname from this source is first recorded in the early half of the 14th Century (see below). One William Ditchfield of Ditton appears in the Wills Records at Chester in 1567, and on January 21st 1581, Ann Ditchfield and Richard Wally were married in Prescot, Lancashire. One John Ditchfield, aged 22 yrs., was an early emigrant to the New World Colonies, leaving London on the "William and John", bound for the Parish of St. Christopher, in the Barbadoes, in September 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de (of) Dychefeld, which was dated 1332, in the "Lay Subsidy Rolls of Lancashire", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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