Recorded in several forms, this is an English surname which may be locational or job descriptive. It does not appear in any etymological research book, which is surprising given that whilst relatively rare, it is nevertheless well recorded in Norfolk from the late 16th century. Every surname originally meant something in some language, however "Kelf" does not, implying that without doubt the spelling has changed over the centuries, but from what? The registers of East Anglia suggested two possibilities. the first is from the Olde English "kelpe" meaning "seaweed" and therefore a metonymic for a merchant or distributer of that very important commodity. The second possibility is locational and a development probably through dialect of the village name "Kelk" in East Yorkshire, the spelling changing as the name holders drifted south. "Kelf" itself is prominently recorded in the City of Norwich from February 10th 1703 when Robert Kelf was a witness at the christening of his son John at St. Etheldrada's church. It will be noted that "Kelcke" is recorded 150 years earlier, whilst "Kalph", a name of German origins was not recorded in London until 1780. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elizabeth Kelcke which was dated November 21st, 1541 married William Osprowster at Hautbois, Norfolk. during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1510 - 1547. 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.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017