Recorded in various forms including Turf, Turfes, Turfs, and Turfus, this is apparently an English surname. However recordings are few and erratic and it has to be said that conclusions are not easy to draw as to the actual meaning and origin. The spelling of the surname suggests that it is either job descriptive for a person who supplied "turves", or locational for one who lived at such a place. Turves were used in ancient times for roofing, being an early form of thatch, and as such in popular demand. If locational we have a problem as no such place called Turves or Turf or really anything close to it, now exists, or as far as we can tell, has existed at least in the past three hundred years. On the other hand this is not entirely unusual as at least three thousand surnames of the British Isles are known to originate from "lost" medieval sites, of which the only reminder in the 20th century is the surviving surname, often in a myriad of spellings. Locational surnames by their nature were usually "from" names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homes and moved elsewhere. It was then and it remains so today, that one of the easiest ways to identify a stranger was to call him or sometimes her, by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling over the centuries being at best erratic, and local dialects very thick, lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings. In this case early examples of recordings include Edward Turfus at St James Clerkenwell, in the city of London, on August 8th 1753, and Peter Turfs who married Alice Meads at St Leonards church, Shoreditch, on November 27th 1790.
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