This is an English medieval surnames whose origins lie in the adventures of the Vikings. It derives from the pre 7th Century Norse "Saefogl", and translates as "the sea cormorant", this bird being held in great esteem for its fierce and vicious temperament, and therefore having much in common with its piratical namesakes. As a personal name "Saefogl" is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book for Hampshire: the surname is however rather later, first appearing in the 13th Century (see below). It has developed a range of spellings in the modern idiom, and these include Safell, Saffell, Saffill, Saffle and Safhill, whilst the early recordings include the following examples: Robert Sefoul in the Hundred Rolls of Oxford in 1279; John Safowel in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Essex; John Sefughel in 1332 (Sussex), and John Safoul in the Assize Court Rolls of Essex in 1376. John Safful appears in 1434 (Essex), whilst Isaac Saffole was recorded at Little Baddow, Essex, on April 1st 1569, and Henry Safell, the son of William and Elizabeth Saffell, was christened at Great Wallham, on April 24th 1757, in the reign of George 11 (1727 - 1760). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Seful, which was dated 1275, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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