Recorded in the modern spellings of Jeffkins, Gifkins and Giffkins, this most unusual surname is medieval English, but of a French derivation. According to the eminent Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley 'Gif(f)kins' and Jeffkins is a short form of the early French personal name "Jefroi"from the pre 8th century, which after the Norman Invasion of England in 1066, developed into Jeffrey and Geoffrey, both as personal names and later surnames. If that is so, then both Jeffkins and Gif(f)kins are double diminutive compounds, made up of the elements 'Jeff' or 'Giff', dialectal short forms, plus "kin", to imply a close relationship, probably son, plus "s" which is a short form of son. Bardsley quotes an early examples as being Robertus Gyffe in the 1379 Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire. However he is unable to provide any recordings of the later developments other than for the year 1887, when a Mr J H Gifkins was High Constable of Chatham in Kent, and chairman of the Queens Jubilee committee, formed to decided upon a suitable memorial. Fortunately we have access to registers not available to Victorian scholars and from these early registers we have found the recordings of Anna Jephkyns, the daughter of Johannis, christened at Stepney on June 25th 1671, John Jephkyns, christened at St Olaves, Southwark, London, on May 3rd 1711, and Sarah Giffkins, who married Samuel Lightfoot at St James, westminster, on March 18th 1830. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Geffrei, which was dated 1203, the Curia Regis rolls for the county of Norfolk, England, during the reign of King John, known by the nickname of 'Lackland', 1199 - 1216. 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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