This interesting surname is of pre 7th century English origins. Deriving from the ancient word 'nefa' denoting close relationship, in most cases it was probably applied to an orphan, one who was brought up in the guardianship of a relative or family friend. The later word nephew came from the same source. Modern surname spellings include Neave, Neeve, Neve, Neaf, Neef, and Niave, as well as the patronymics Nevison, Neavison, Neaves, Neeves and Niaves. The surname is 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, and Walter le Neve in the Hundred Rolls of Norfolk in 1273.John Nieve was listed in the Hundred Rolls of Essex in the same year, and Margrett Neave, a widow 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 at the port of Ipswich in May 1637, and it seems they were early settlers in Virginia Colony, New England. A coat of arms granted to the Neaves of Dagenham Park, Essex, has the blazon of a silver shield charged with a black cross and thereon five black fleur de lis. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Neve. This was dated 1242, in the tax rolls known as the "Feet of Fines" for the county of Kent, during the reign of King Henry 111rd, 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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