This interesting surname has two possible sources. The first is of Irish origin, from the name Mag Dhuibhfinn, derived from the elements "dubh", black and "Finn", a genitive of "Fionn", a personal name meaning fair. The second origin is 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 Irish form of the name is found mainly in counties Antrim, Derry and Tyrone whereas the Scottish form is now very rare in Scotland.Although sometimes recorded with the Gaelic Mc prefix, the modern surname is generally recorded as Giffin, Giffen, Giffon, and Geffen: Amongst the sample recordings in Ireland are the baptisms of John, son of John Giffin and Margaret Gill, on November 29th 1865 in Belfast, and William, son of Stuart Mc Giffin and Jane Cavana on November 15th 1866 in 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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