Recorded in many spellings as shown below, this is a very interesting surname. It is of pre medieval French origin, and derives from the phrase pedefer or pied de fer, which translates as "iron-foot". It was originally given as a nickname to a soldier, particularly good at marching, or perhaps to one who had lost a foot and had an artificial one made of iron fitted. This is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames.the nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to occupation, or to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, and to habits of dress. Initially, the nickname was used on its own; "Piedfer" is recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Worcestershire in 1186, and "Pie de Fer" was entered in the 1185 Pipe Rolls of Norfolk. It takes a forename in 1190 and thereafter. The surname was first recorded in the late 12th Century (see below), and one William Petifer was recorded in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, dated 1327. In the modern idiom, the name has fourteen spelling variations including, Pettiford, Pettifer, Pettyfar, Pettipher, Pettiford, Pottiphar and Puddifer. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Pedefer, which was dated 1190, in the "Pipe Rolls of Bedfordshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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