This surname has three origins; firstly, it may be of Welsh origin, a variant of the name Griffith, from the Old Welsh personal name "Gruffydd", composed of the elements "griff" of uncertain etymology, plus "udd", chief, lord. Secondly, it may have been of Old German origin, a nickname for a fierce person, deriving from the Middle English "griffin" meaning gryphon (dragon), a development of the Old High German "grifan", to snatch, grasp. Thirdly, it may be of Irish origin, an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "O'Griobhtha", the prefix "O", denoting descendant of, plus the personal name "Grioghtha", from "griobh" meaning gryphon. The surname dates back to the mid 12th Century (see below). Early recordings include Robert Griffin (1197) in the Pipe Rolls of Warwickshire, and John Grifen (1230) in the Chartulary of the Priory of St. Thomas, the Martyr, near Stafford. Church Records list the christening of John, son of Jane and George Griffin, on September 4th 1558 at St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, London. A Coat of Arms granted to a Griffin family is black, a silver griffin segreant gold beak and forelegs. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Grifin, which was dated 1148, in the "Winton Rolls of Hampshire", during the reign of King Stephen, known as "The Count of Blois", 1135 - 1154. 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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