This interesting and unusual surname is of German origin, and is a topographical name for someone who lived in "a house where oak trees grew", derived from the German "eiche", oak, from the Old Norse "eik", and the German "hof", from the Old Norse "hof", house, or temple. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The surname is very popular in Germany, but it is very rare in other countries. The modern surname can be found as Eickhoff, Eikhoff, Ecoff and Eichofes. Recorded in German Church Registers are the marriages of Ilsche Eickhoff and Detert Apenbrinck on October 28th 1677, at Schildesche, PR, Westfalen, and of Gerdt Eickhoff and Elisabeth Hufemann on August 22nd 1699, at Hiesfeld, PR, Rheinland, and the christening of Johann, son of Hinrich Eickhoff and Beecke Wieting, on July 5th 1764, at Ganderkesee, Oldenburg. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Barbara Eichhof, which was dated April 20th 1614, christened at Bigge, PR, Westfalen, Germany, during the reign of Matthias, "Holy Roman Emperor", 1612 - 1619. 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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