This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from a place called Duffield in Derbyshire, or from North and South Duffield in the East Riding of Yorkshire, deriving from the Old Norse "dufa" meaning "dove", perhaps a byname, and the Olde English pre 7th Century "feld", pasture or open-country; hence, "a field frequented by doves", or "Dove's feld". Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname dates back to the late 12th Century (see below), and further early recordings include: John de Duffeld, in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Derbyshire, and Geoffrey de Duffeld, in the 1276 Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Duffield, Duffell, Duffil(l) Duffit and Dewfall. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the christening of Elizabeth Dufelde at Christ Church, Greyfriars, Newgate, on October 10th 1565, and the marriage of John Duffield and Ellen Almonde on July 27th 1603, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney. One George Duffield, aged 22 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed aboard the "Panthea" from Liverpool bound for New York in December 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger de Duffeld, which was dated 1190, in the "Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1190. 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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