Recorded as Taft, Tift, Toft, and Tuft, this is an English surname. It is however of pre 7th century Old Scandinavian origins, and is a locational surname. It derives from any one of the various places called Toft, in the counties of Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Warwickshire. All are named from the word "toft"; this term being originally used for the site of a house and its outbuildings. The places named with this word are variously recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, as Tofth, Taft and Tofte. Amongst the early recordings is that of Robert de Taft, in the Assize Court rolls of Cambridge for the year 1340. In the early surviving church registers we have the recordings of Henry Tofte who was christened at St. Margaret's, Westminster, on September 29th 1585, whilst on July 26th 1655, Raph Taft was married at St Peters Church, Nottingham to Alice Wright, and again in London, William Tift was christened at St Giles Cripplegate, on May 4th 1674. The surname is probably better known in the United States of America, with William Howard Taft being the 27th President of the Union from 1909 to 1913, then later the tenth Chief Justice of the United States. He is the only person to have served in both of these offices. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elyas del Toft. This was dated 1197, in the Northamptonshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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