This very unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and can be either a topographical or a locational name. In both cases, the surname is almost entirely peculiar to the county of Hampshire. As a topographical name, 'soffe' and its variant forms 'soff' and 'sofe', denote residence to the south of a settlement, derived from the Old English pre 7th Century word 'suth', south, the Hampshire form 'soffe' being a dialectal variant. As a locational surname, suggested by the quantity and placing of early recordings of the name in Hampshire, the source may be a now 'lost' place, originally called 'South' or 'soffe', near Eling, in Southampton. It is possible, since Southampton was not so called until 962 (before that date it was 'Hamtun', village in river land), that the original holders of the name 'soffe' were from 'south of Hamtun', later to become 'Southampton'. The development of the name in Hampshire includes Sofe (1680), Soaf (1707), Soafe (1744) and Sofe (1759). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Soffe (marriage to Joane Shotter), which was dated October 12th 1542, Eling, Hampshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as 'Good King Hal', 1509-1547. 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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