This long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon, Scottish and Welsh origin, and has two possible sources. Firstly, it may be derived from a topographical name for a "dweller by a woodland or scrub on the edge of a forest", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "firhthe, (ge)fyrhthe". The second possible source is also topographical, from the Welsh "ffrith, ffridd", barren land, mountain pasture (originally a borrowing of the Olde English word "firhthe, (ge)fyrhthe", as above); hence, "dweller by barren land or a ountain pasture". Topographical surnames, such as this, 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 was first recorded in the later 12th Century, and other early recordings include: Wlmar de Frith (1195, the Pipe Rolls of Kent), and John del Frith (1201, the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk). The surname was first recorded in Scotland in circa 1317, when Laurencius del Frith witnessed a charter by Willelmus de Lysurius in Edinburgh. The christening was recorded in London of John, son of John Firth, on December 31st 1609, at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name is described thus: "Ar (silver) three lozenge buckles, tongues in fesse azure. Crest - Out of a ducal coronet a battle axe broken, the head in bend sinister all proper". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Delfrid, which was dated 1176, in the "Pipe Rolls of Surrey", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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