Recorded in several spellings including Goodliff, Goodliffe and the dialectally transposed Godlip and Goodlip, this is an English surname but of continental origins. The origination is from St. Godelive, a Flemish lady, her name being created from the pre 7th century elements "god", meaning "good", and "heofu", dear love. Born at Boulogne, France, it is said that in 1045 she was 'done to death' at the order of her husband. This may have had some connection with perceived witchcraft, as she was reported as having performed miracles. However others clearly did not agree with her husband, because it would seem that as a result her fame travelled to England with the Norman Invaders of 1066, as well as to Germany where the spelling became Gottlieb and Godlieb. In England the name is first recorded as Godlif as early as 1086, in the Domesday Book for Cambridge, and in the same spelling in the 1197 pipe rolls of the county of Kent. Examples of surname recordings taken from the early church registers include: John Godlyf, who married Dorcas Kethin at All Hallows Church, London Wall, on February 8th 1563; Elizabeth Goodliff at St. James' Church, Duke's Place, on October 28th 1695; and Robert Goodliffe, a christening witness at St. Mary's Church, St. Mary-le-Bone, on June 21st 1795. John Godlip, believed to be the great grandson of a Huguenot immigrant Samuel Godlieb, recorded in 1730, was himself recorded at St Matthews church, Bethnal Green, on May 4th 1794. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Maud Goodleef, which was dated 1272, in records of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 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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