This unusual and interesting name has two possible origins, the first of which is an occupational surname or a "nickname surname" describing someone who used a "gaff", an iron hook or a staff armed with such a hook, such as a barbed fishing spear or a stick with an iron hook for landing salmon, for instance. The derivation is from the Middle English word "gaf", reinforced by the French "gaff", now a boat-hook, plus the agent suffix "er". The second possible origin is from a contracted form of either "godfather" or "grandfather", used as a term of respect before a proper name, or the designation of a calling or office. A similar formation produced "grammer" for "godmother" or "grandmother". One "William Gaffer was christened in Wandsworth, South London, in November 1771. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jacobus Gafare. which was dated 1379, The Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire. during the reign of King Richard II, Richard of Bordeaux, 1377 - 1399. 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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