This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor, unrecorded, or now "lost" place believed to have been situated in the south west of England, especially Dorset and Somerset, because of the high incidence of early surname recordings from that area. The component elements of the placename are believed to be the Olde English pre 7th Century male given name "Saeric", sea-ruler, found in Middle English as "Sarc, Serc", and later as "Sarch" and "Search", with "feld", open country, land free from wood, plain. The prime cause of medieval village "disappearance" was the enforced clearing of rural settlements, and the consequent dispersal of the former inhabitants, to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade from the 14th Century onwards, along with natural causes, such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. On September 3rd 1582, Thomas Serchefield and Elizabeth Baynton were married at St. Thomas', Salisbury, Wiltshire, and in 1589, Joan Searchfield married Ginkin Williams at Dunster, Somerset. The christening of Rebecka Searchfield, an infant, took place at St. Helen's, Worcester, Worcestershire, on November 27th 1598, and the first recording of the name from London Church Registers is that of Katheren Searchfild (as written) at St. Andrew's, Holborn, on October 23rd 1595. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Searchfielde, which was dated May 29th 1574, marriage to Jane Persons, at Lydlinch, Dorset, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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