This interesting and unusual name with variant spelling Selfe, may derive from two possible sources. Firstly it may derive from the Old English personal name "Saewulf", composed of the elements "Soe", sea and "wulf", wolf, hence "seawolf". The name may also be of English locational origin from either "Shelf", in Yorkshire, recorded "Scelf" in the Domesday Book of 1086 or "Shelve", in Shropshire, recorded "Schelfe" in 1180, both coming from the Old English "scylf", meaning hill or ledge. The personal name was recorded in the Domesday Book as "Sainlfus", "Saulf", etc.One Robert filus (son of) Seulfi, appears in the 1185 Knights Templars Records of Berkshire. A John and William Self are recorded in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk in 1327, while Cristiana del Schelf was mentioned in the Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire in 1379 as was one Johannes del Schelf. The family of "Shelfe" were granted a coat of arms which depicts a silver cross flory on a green shield. In heraldry the cross is representative of the Christian Faith and the love of God, while the silver colour signifies Peace and Sincerity and the green denoting Hope, Joy and sometimes loyalty in love. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Sewolf, which was dated 1296, Pipe Rolls Records of Sussex, during the reign of King Edward 1, "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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