Recorded in many spellings as shown below this is an English surname but one of French origins. As Humfrey it was introduced into Britain by the Norman-French after the famous Conquest of England in 1066. The name is derived from the elements "hun", meaning a bear-cub", and "frid" - peace. St. Humfrey, the 9th century bishop of Therouanne, had a certain following in England among the Norman settlers, and no doubt this contributed to the popularity of the name. Interestingly, until the early 14th Century, the name appears to have been confined to the nobility and the learned sections of the populace, such as scribes and scholars in great houses and monasteries. As a personal name, it appears both as Hunfridus and Humfridus in the Domesday Book of 1086. William Humfrey, noted in the Book of Fees for Bedfordshire, circa 1240, and in the reign of King Henry 111rd (1216 - 1272), is the earliest known hereditary bearer of the surname. This in the modern idiom is variously spelt Humphery, Humphry, Humfrey and Homfray, whilst the patronymic forms, having a final genitive "s", include: Humphreys, Humphris, Humphries, Humphriss, Humfress and Humpherson. A coat of arms granted to the family depicts a black lion passant, guardant on a silver shield, the crest being three legs conjoined at the thigh flexed at the knee and spurred proper. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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