This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin. It was a kinship name which denoted close relationship to a prominent person, or perhaps literally an orphan who was brought up in the guardianship of his uncle. It derives from the pre 7th century Olde English word "nefa" and Middle English "neve", meaning nephew. Modern surname spellings include Neaves, Neeve, Neve, Neeves, Neaf, Neef, Niave, and the patronymic Niaves. The surname itself first appears in the late 13th Century (see below), whilst amongst the early recordings are those of Andrew Neve in the records of Ramsey Monastery, Bedfordshire in the year 1250, Rayner and Walter le Neve in the Hundred Rolls of Norfolk in 1273, and John Nieve who was listed in the Hundred Rolls of Essex in the same year. Margrett Neave, a widow of 58 years, from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, and her grandchild Rachell Dixon are recorded in the "Register of Persons about to pass into Foreign Parts". This was recorded in Ipswich in May 1637, and they were early settlers to the Virginia colony of New England. A coat of arms depicting five gold fleurs-de- lis on a black cross, on a silver shield, was granted to a Neave family at Dagnam Park in Essex. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Neve, which was dated 1242, in the "Feet of Fines of Kent", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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