Recorded in many forms although all are quite rare, and including Maffie, Maffey, Maffy, Morfey, Morphey, Morffew, Morphew, and possibly others, this is English, but of Norman French origins. It is believed to originate from the pre 7th century word 'malfe' meaning ill-omened, and used as a term of abuse applied to the devil or an enemy of some sort. It is said to have been given by the famous Crusader knights of the 12th century to the Saracens or Muslims in the Holy Land. However the surname already existed at that time, original name holders having accompanied William, Duke of Normandy in his Conquest of England in 1066. If so there must have been some earlier source. However it is far from clear as to how the surname came to be applied at all, and it may originally have been a personal name given at baptism to ward off evil spirits. In surviving records and registers the name is first recorded in the year 1130 in the pipe rolls of Northumberland where we have Wido Malfeth, with Simon le Malfre also appearing in the pipe rolls of the same county in 1176. Later recordings showing the ongoing development include Simon Malfei of Norfolk in 1198, John Malefay of Wakefield in Yorkshire in 1307, and John Morfee of Suffolk in 1679..
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