This rare and interesting surname is of Welsh origin, and is the Anglicization of the Welsh locational name "Llanfair". There are various places named Llanfair in Wales, for example in Anglesey, Glamorganshire, Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire and Denbighshire, and they all derive from the Old Welsh "Llan", an enclosure, house, church, with "fawr", great; hence "great house" or "great church". During the Middle Ages when migration for the purpose of job seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. The surname has many variant spellings ranging from Lanfere, Lanfare and Lanfer to Lanphere and Lanphier. Recordings of the surname and its variants from London Church Registers include; Humphrey Lanfere who married Elizabeth Wotton on August 22nd 1649, at St. Margaret's, Westminster; William Lanphier who was christened on February 11th 1749 at St. Katherine by the Tower; and Ambrose Lanfear who married Sarah Smith at St. Matthew's, Friday Street on June 7th 1781. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family is a paly of six red and silver, on a blue chief a silver lion passant, the Crest being a red demi lion rampant. The motto "Virtute et Fidelitate" translates as "By Valour and Fidelity". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anne Lanfere, which was dated May 6th 1593, marriage to Giles Eden at St. Mary Woolchurch Haw, 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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