Recorded as Whitefield, Whitfield, the dialectals Wiffield and Wifield, and possibly others, this is an English surname also recorded in Scotland. It is of pre 7th century origins, and locational from any or all of the places called Whitfield in the counties of Derbyshire, Kent, Northamptonshire and Northumberland, or from the villages called Whitefield in Lancashire, the Isle of Wight and Gloucestershire. The last mentioned place, recorded as "Wicfeld" in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, derives its first element from the ancient word "wican", meaning to bend or curve, and the reference is to a recess in a neighbouring hill. The second element is "feld", which has the opposite meaning to the modern "field". It describes "open country", or "land free from wood". All the other Whitfield or Whitefield places share the same meaning and derivation, which is "the white plain", from the Olde English "hwit", meaning white or in this context, chalky. Amongst the many early recordings are those of William de Whitefeld, in the Pipe Rolls of Somerset for the year 1230, and Richard Whytefeld in the Pipe Rolls of Gloucestershire, dated 1396. In the surviving registers of the city of London Sarah Wiffield or Wifield was married to Thomas Stray on May 30th 1653 at St Stephans Coleman Street, whilst John Whitfield, aged twenty was one of the earliest settlers in the New England colony of Virginia in 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Leonard de Witefelde. This was dated 1154, in the "Eynsham Cartulary", for Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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