This name, with variant spellings Palfery, Parfrey, and Parffrey, derives from the medieval English "palfrey", (Old French "Palefrei"), from the Late Latin "paraveredus", a compound of the Greek "para", meaning "beside", plus the Gallic "vered", a light saddle horse. The surname, originally given as a metronymic occupational name to a man responsible for the maintenance and provision of saddle horses, was first recorded in England towards the middle of the 12th Century (see below). One Ralph Palefray appears in the Pipe Rolls of Durham, dated 1183, and a Gilbert Palfrey in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Norfolk. The following quotation from Chaucer's "Knight's Tale" read's: "And to the paleis rode ther many a route of lords, upon stedes and palfreis". Recordings of the surname in the London Church Registers include; Francis Palfrey, who was christened on April 14th 1577, at St. Mary Whitechapel; James Palfrey who married Ellynor Wellyns, on July 23rd 1592, at St. Bride's, Fleet Street and on April 20th 1610, Gregory, son of John Palfrey, was christened at St. Andrew's, Holborn. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hunfridus Palefrei, which was dated 1148, in the "(Winton) Pipe Rolls of Hampshire", during the reign of King Stephen, known as "Count of Blois", 1135 - 1154. 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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