Recorded in many spellings including Godfrey, Godfroy, Godfry, Gotfree, Godfree and Godfreed, this is an English surname. It is however of Germanic and Anglo-Saxon pre 7th century origins and derives from the personal name 'God-frida'. This was composed of the elements 'guda', meaning good, and 'frid' - peace, a meaning which no doubt contributed to its considerable popularity. The modern surnames probably derive from the French - Norman form of the name, 'Godefroi', introduced into England at the Conquest of 1066, and held by a number of William's closest comrades. As such the name is recorded in its Latinized form 'Godefridus' in the Domesday Book of 1086, the first surname recording being a century or so later as shown below. The development includes Alan Godefre of Huntingdonshire in 1252, and Maud Godefray of Nottinghamshire in 1277. In the famous annals of Piers Plowman, 'Sire Godefray Gowel' is recorded on page 596, whilst in the 12th century the crusader 'Godfrey of Lorraine' was as famous as 'Richard the Lionheart'. Other recordings include Willelmus Godefroy of Yorkshire in the Poll Tax Rolls of 1379, whilst Stephen Godfrye was christened at the church of St Mary Aldermary, cit of London in 1614. John Godfrey was a very early emigrant to the American colonies, leaving London on the ship 'Transport' in July 1635, bound for Virginia.The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Symon Godefrei. This was dated 1221, in the charters of the abbey of Ely, Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 111rd, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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