This interesting name, with variant spellings Duffett, Duffitt, Duffill and Duffield, can be traced to two possible origins. Firstly, it may be a dialectal variant of the locational name Duffield, a parish in the county of Derby, and also two townships in Yorkshire, named from the Old Norse, "dufa", dove, and the Olde English pre 7th Century word "feld", pasture or open country (see below). It is also a nickname deriving from the Olde English "dufe" (dove), and "heafod" (head) and the Middle English (1200 - 1500) words "dove" (dove), and "heved" (head). One Richard Dovefote is recorded in the 1301 Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire and "William Dowfhed" is mentioned in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York (1355). Recordings from London Church Registers include the marriage of John Duffell and Jone Ynglyshe on February 25th 1556, at St. Dionis', Backchurch, and the christening of Avis, daughter of Nicholas Duffell, on March 26th 1587, at St. Margaret's, Westminster. John Duffill, aged 14 yrs., who sailed for the New World aboard the "James" in 1622, was recorded in a "Muster of the Inhabitants of Charles Cittie", Virginia, taken on January 21st 1624. 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 "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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