This unusual surname recorded in the modern spellings of Hemphrey and Henfrey, is both 8th century Anglo-Saxon and 11th century Norman-French in origin. In each case it is a derivation of the ancient German personal names " Haimfrid or Heinfrid", which contain the elements "hen" meaning home and "frid" - peace. This type of compound, usually extolling the contradictory virtues of war, peace, and rule, was very popular in the period of history known as "The Dark Ages". Many examples were "borrowed" by the conquering Vikings of the 9th century as they swept down through Germany from Scandanavia, and on across the Low Countries, until finally settling in that part of Northern France, known ever since as Normandy. When in 1066 these Norman-French reversed direction and conquered England, they introduced their modified form of the name as "Hainfroi". Early examples of the surname recording include one Hemfridus, without surname, in the Curia Regis rolls of Northampton in the year 1214, Margareta Henfrey in the1327 Subsidy Rolls of the county of Suffolk, and William Hemffrey in the 1524 Subsidy Rolls also of Suffolk. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Heinfrid de Colecestr. This was dated 1197, and appears in the pipe rolls of the county of Essex, during the reign of King Richard Ist, known as "Lionheart" 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries since the introduction of surnames in medieval times, they have continued to "develop" in every country, sometimes leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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