This interesting surname has several possible sources. These include English from the a short form of the personal name Geoffrey introduced by the Normans after the 1066 Invasion. Irish from the name Mag Dhuibhfinn, derived from the elements "dubh", black and "Finn", a personal name meaning fair haired or fair complexion, Scottish and locational from a place called Giffen, in the parish of Beith, Ayrshire. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The same explanation applies to the Dutch, being from the town of Geffen in the Netherlands, although the spelling is usually Van Geffen or Van Giffen. Here "geffen" means land, and this explanation may apply the to the Scottish origin. The modern surname can be found as Geffen, McGiffin, McGiffen, McGeffen, Van Geffen and Van Giffen. Among the sample recordings are those of Rosa van Geffen of Hertogsbosch, The Netherlands, on March 18th 1701, John, the son of John McGiffin and Margaret Gill, on November 29th 1865 in Belfast, and William Mc Giffin on November 15th 1866 at Carrickfergus, both in County Antrim. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Peter Geffen, which was dated 1332, in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire, during the reign of King Edward 111,known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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