This unusual name has two possible origins, each with its own distinctive history and derivation. Firstly, as an English surname, Raffels is one of the patronymic forms of the name Raffel (the "-s" suffix representing a reduced form of "son of"), which was developed from the Hebrew male given name "Refael", composed of the elements "rafa", to heal, and "el", God. This was the name borne by one of the archangels, and was comparatively popular as a given name among Christians in the Middle Ages, partly due to the part played by the angel in the Apochryphal tale of Tobias. The English surname from this source can be found as Raffel, Raffle and Raffield, while the patronymic forms are Raffels and Raffles. As a Scottish surname, Raffels is a locational name from the place called Raffles in the parish of Mouswald, Dumfriesshire, believed to be so called from the Gaelic "rath", fort, with the Olde English "hol", hollow; hence "the fort in the hollow". The first recording of the surname, below, is from this source. In Northumberland, the marriage of Benjamine Raffels and Marie Mortine was recorded in Berwick-upon-Tweed, on May 1st 1655, and one William Raffell appears in Kirkcudbright in 1684. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Refholes, which was dated 1215, document witness, in the "Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland in the Public Record Office", during the reign of King Alexander 11 of Scotland, 1214 - 1249. 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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