This unusual locational name derives from a now "lost" medieval place believed to have been in Devonshire. It is found recorded in a wide variety of spellings, including Ganiclef, Gannicleffe, Ganniclief, Gannicleff, and Ganicleft, and the epicentre of the name from the earliest times is the City of Exeter. The translation is apparently "the gannets cliff", and given that the gannet is a marine bird, and that the "soft" redstone cliffs of South Devon are continuously subjected to coastal erosion, this would be logical. However, the name does not appear in the recent lists of lost medieval villages prepared by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments. The recordings include: William Geniclif, who married Dorothie Smyth on June 7th 1604, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London; Thomas Ganniclift, of St. Thomas the Apostle, Exeter, christened on April 3rd 1659; and Richard, son of Thomas Ganiclift, christened on June 14th 1668, in London. Later, on October 17th 1784, William Ganniclifft married Mary Handford at St. Mary Major, Exeter, Devonshire, in the reign of George 111 (1760 - 1820). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh Gannicliff, which was dated January 1st 1591, a witness at the christening of his daughter, Agnes, at St. Thomas the Apostle, Exeter, Devonshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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