This unusual name is recorded in a wide variety of spellings from the 17th Century. This suggests that either the origin is from some now "lost" English medieval village, perhaps called "Lift-Leah" - the farm on the river Lift in North Devon, and also found in the various spellings as Lew, Lyd, Left, and even Lis, plus "leah", a farm or enclosure. The other possibility given to the first recording is as an "anglicization of the Old French-Flanders "Le File" - a name recorded heraldically circa 1580 and possibly a nickname for an official of the state. Of this possibility, there is not proof but the recording date suggests a possible "Huguenot" association. The recordings include William Lifley (1688, London), Stephen Leftley (1763, Westminster) and Abel Lyfoly (1716, London). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Bartholomew Lefly, which was dated September 16th 1655, a witness at St. Dunstans church, Stepney, during the reign of Oliver Cromwell, "The Lord Protector", 1649 - 1658. 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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