This interesting and unusual surname is of English origin, and is locational from a place called Swatfield Bridge in Willesborough, in Kent. The placename is of unknown origin, but the second element could be from the Old English pre 7th Century "feld", pasture, open country. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The placename was first recorded as "Swatford" in 1254. The name development since 1518 (see below) includes the following: John Swaffer (1523, Canterbury), Robert Swafford (1549, ibid) and Joane Swafer (1560, Kent). The modern surname can be found as Swaffer, Swoffer and Swafford, and it is very common in Kent. Among the sample recordings in Kent is the christening of John, son of Daniel and Mary Swaffer, on October 29th 1650 at Willesborough. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Swoffer, which was dated 1518, in the Index of Wills and Administrations in the Probate Registry at Canterbury, 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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