This rare and intriguing name is of West Country origin and is locational from a so called 'lost' place possibly called Menefes, once situated in Devon, which is suggested by the fact that there are numerous recordings of this name in that county. The derivation is from the Cornish word 'maen', and is thought to mean a stone enclosure. The phenomenon of the 'lost' village, of which, it is estimated, there are between seven and ten thousand that have disappeared from British maps, were generally a result of enforced land clearance in the 11th and 12th Centuries to make way for sheep pasture. Amongst the sample recordings in Devon are the christenings of Alice Minifie on October 28th 1588, and of Anstis Minifie on January 19th 1592, both at Heavitree. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Minifie (christening), which was dated June 7th 1563, Honiton-on-Olter, Devon, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, '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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