This very interesting name is English. It is a dialectual tease being the recognised pronunciation for the town in the county of Yorkshire called Pontefract, and from whence originate the famous "Pomfret Cakes" - a black liquorice sweet. There are several modern spellings including Pomfret, Pomfritt, Pomphrett and Pontefract. Amongst the early recordings are those of William Puntfreit of Essex in 1191, and Robert Pumfret of Norfolk in 1273. However spelt this is a good example of a locational surname, being one that was given to a former inhabitant of a particular place, who had moved to another area. There he or sometimes she, was given the name of their former home as easy identification. Spelling being at best erratic and dialects very thick, lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings. The place name and hence the surname derives from the Roman (Latin) words ponto fracto meaning "broken bridge", and amonghst the early recordings was that of Thomas le Lange de Pontefracto. This was dated 1310, in the register of the "Freeman of York" during the reign of King Edward 11nd of England, 1307 - 1327. 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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