Recorded in several forms including Ofer, Offer, Orfeur, and at various times in the past, the eclectic forms of Offor, Affore, Upher, and Ufer, this is an English surname, but of pre 10th century Old French origins. It derives from the word 'orfevre', and as such is a job description for a specialist goldsmith, a maker of 'orphrey', which was gold embroidery, or cloth embroided with gold. Because the work was highly skilled and no doubt very expensive, it is hardly surprising that the surname is much more rare than 'Goldsmith'. It was apparently introduced into England by the Norman Invaders at the 1066 Conquest, or shortly afterwards. The first surviving recording is believed to be that of William le Orfur, in the Patent Rolls for London, in the year 1265. Other recordings include Robert Lorfeure of Nottingham, who may have been a civic officer charged with the responsibility of inspecting goldsmiths, in effect an early Trading Standards official, although John Ourfeyre of Suffolk was clearly a maker of orphrey. Later recordings include John Ofer, the son of Thomas Ofer, christened at St Margaret's church, Westminster, on October 18th 1597, and William Offer, christened at St Katherines by the Tower (of London), on June 19th 1608.
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