Recorded as Spafford, Spawforth, Spofforth, Spofford, Spuffard, and possibly others, this is an English surname. It is locational and originates from a village place in the North Riding of Yorkshire called Spofforth. Recorded as Spoford in the Domesday Book of 1086 and as Spotford in the Fines Court Rolls of the county in the year 1218, the derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century word 'splott' meaning a plot of land, plus the forth or ford, and meaning a shallow estuary or river crossing. The surname from this source is first recorded in the early 13th century, (see below), whilst Robert de Spofford appears in the Register of the Freemen of the city of York in 1310. Locational surnames such as this one were originally given either to the lord of the manor, as seems to be the case here, or to people who for whatever reason left the village, to move somewhere else. Spelling over the centuries being at best erratic and local dialects very thick, often lead to the creation of "sounds like" forms. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hynge de Spoufford. This was dated 1212 in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King John, nicknamed Lackland 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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