This very unusual surname dates back to pre Elizabethan times, and is found in the varied spellings of Hodcroft, Odcroft, Hadcroft, Hadcraft and the dialectal "Hadgraft". It is locational and derives from some now "lost" medieval place such as Hodcot in Berkshire, or the present day Haddiscoe in Norfolk, translating as "Hadd's wood", the same translation as Hadgraft. It is estimated that as many as five thousand modern English surnames derive from lost villages, these being former sites cleared in the 14th - 18th Centuries by land enclosure, sheep farming and pestilence. The former inhabitants were forced onto the roads, and in so doing took as their surname their former village home. This action often led to a wide variety of spellings, as in this case. Sample recordings include William Hadgraft and his wife Elizabeth, who witnessed the christening of their children, Emma and Walter (twins), on January 27th 1824, and Elizabeth, on September 13th 1825, all at Bathside Chapel, Harwich, Essex. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of David Hodcroft, which was dated December 15th 1567, christened at St. John's, Hackney, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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