This interesting and unusual name is of Old Scandinavian origin, and is either a locational or a topographical surname. If the former, the name derives from any one of the various places called Toft, in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Warwickshire, which are named with the Old Norse "topt", or Old Swedish "toft, tompt"; this term was originally used for the site of a house and its outbuildings, a house site, and from this developed the meaning "homestead", although it is also found in the sense of a deserted site.The places named with this word are variously recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, as "Tofth", "Taft" and "Tofte". As a topographical surname, Taft, Toft, Tofts, Tuft(s) and Tofft(s), denote residence by such a site or homestead. Among the early recordings of the name are those of Robert de Taft, in the Assize Court Rolls of Cambridge for the year 1340 whilst Henry Tofte was christened at St. Margaret's, Westminster, on September 29th 1585, and on July 26th 1655, Raph Taft was married at St Peters Church, Nottingham to one Alice Wright. This occurred during the "reign" of Oliver Cromwell from 1653 to 1658. The surname is probably better known in American, Robert Taft being the 27th President of the Union from 1909 to 1913. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elyas del Toft, which was dated 1197, in the "Northamptonshire Pipe Rolls", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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