This interesting name derives from the personal name "Godfrey", which is ultimately of Old German origin, as "Godafrid", a compound of "Guda, Goda", god, with "frithu, frid", peace. There was a corresponding Old English given name, "Godfrith", but it was not common, and most of the modern surnames derive from the Norman form of the German name, "Godefroi, Godefrois", introduced into England after the Conquest of 1066. The given name is recorded in its Latinized form in the Domesday Book of 1086, as "Godefridus", and the surname development includes Alan Godefre (1252, Huntingdonshire), and Maud Godefray (1277, Nottinghamshire). The modern surname has a variety of forms: Godfrey, Godfray, Godfree, Godfery and Gotfrey. Among the recordings of the name in Devonshire Church Registers, where the name is particularly prevalent, is the marriage of Henrie Godfree and Susan Squire at Chyst Honiton, on July 30th 1621, and that of Thomas Godfree and Mary Larnes at Sidmouth, on January 13th 1622. One Gilbert God(d)free was an early emigrant to the New World colonies; he is recorded as being granted a ticket to sail from the Barbadoes in the ketch "Neptune" for Virginia, on August 19th 1679. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Symon Godefrei, which was dated 1221, in the "Charters of Ely", Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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