This interesting and unusual surname is of Scottish, and early medieval English and French origin, and is from a nickname for a strong man or ferocious warrior, derived from the Old French 'taille(r)', to cut, from the Latin 'taliare', from 'talea', (plant) cutting, and the Old French 'fer', iron, from the Latin 'ferrum'. The nickname was originally given to a man who could cleave clean through the iron armour of his foe. This is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames.The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, habits of dress, and occupation. The surname was first recorded in Scotland as Willelmus Tailfer in the Register of the Abbey of Arbroath in circa 1210. The modern surname can be found as Telfer, Taillefer, Telfair, Tulliver and Tolver. Among the recordings in Scotland is the christening of George, son of William Telfer and Margaret Murray, on May 23rd 1683 at Hamilton, Lanarkshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Dunning Tailifer, which was dated circa 1103, G. Tengvik's, 'Old English Bynames', Devonshire, during the reign of King Henry 1, 'The Lion of Justice', 1100 - 1135. 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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