This unusual and rare surname is thought to be English, is arguably of Norman-French, but may have a dash of Scottish and German! Recorded in many forms as shown below, but nevertheless quite rare, it is a patronymic. It means the son of Dumphry or Dumphy, which are themselves transpositions of the French personal name Humfrey or Humphrey. This name, it is claimed, was first introduced into England and Scotland by the Norman after the conquest of England in 1066, and is recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as Hunfridus and Humfridus. The name bearers were followers of Duke William of Normandy, and were granted lands as thanks for their efforts. The name translates literally as bear - peace, and is probably from early pre 5th century German. In the modern idiom the name is spelt Dumphy, Dunphy and Dunphie with the forms Dumfrey, Dumfrise which may be Scottish from the town of Dumfries, Dumphrey, Dumphry, Dumphreys, and Dumphries being patronymic synonyms. The name may well have been created as a result of the British having difficulty in pronouncing Humphrey, as shown in the poem and song "Humpty-Dumpty..." An early surviving recording is that of Robert Dumphrey at St Olave's church, Southwark, in the city of London, on December 28th 1744. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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