This an English surname but ultimately one of pre 7th century Old German origin. It derives from the personal name "Godafrid", a compound of Guda or Goda, meaning god, with frithu or frid, meaning peace. It is claimed that most of the modern surnames derive from the Norman form of the name "Godefroi", introduced into England after the famous 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 of Huntingdonshire in 1252, and Maud Godefray of Nottinghamshire in 1277.The modern surname has a variety of forms including: Godfrey, Godfray, Godfree, Godfery and Gotfrey. Amongst the recordings of the name in Devonshire church registers, where the surname is particularly prevalent, are those of Henrie Godfree, who married Susan Squire at Clyst Honiton, on July 30th 1621, and that of Thomas Godfree and Mary Larnes at Sidmouth, on January 13th 1622. Gilbert Goddfree 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", in the county of 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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