This most interesting and unusual name is of Old French origin, introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. Indeed, some members of the Quaif(e) or Coyfe family claim descent from a Coyfe who came over with the Conqueror, and wore a hood instead of a helmet at Hastings. The name derives from the Old French term "coif", close-fitting cap, coif, and may have been either a nickname or a metonymic occupational surname. As a nickname, the term would have been used for someone who habitually wore a hood or coif, and as an occupational name, for a maker of such caps or hoods. Early examples of the surname include: Bidan le Coyfier (1228, Essex); William Coyfe or Coif (1260, Cambridgeshire); and Geoffrey Quayfere (1301, Yorkshire). The modern surname can be found as Quaif, Quaife, Quoif, Coyf and Coyfe, and is still found most frequently in the Channel counties of Kent and Sussex. The marriage of Thwaits Quaif and An Bokingham was recorded at Harbledown, Kent, on May 7th 1644, and Jane, daughter of Will and Margaret Quaif, was christened at Battle, in Sussex, on April 17th 1699. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Coif, which was dated 1180, in the "Pipe Rolls of Buckinghamshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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