This name of German origin is well recorded in a number of variant spellings. It is probably habitational from some now apparently "lost" location originally called "Zoe's" (or possibly Sofia's), Field (Feldt). The number of variants strongly suggests the locational origin, however it is also possible that "Zoeph" may be a developed form of "Zopf", a nickname for a person who had their hair in plaits or pigtails. In that case the suffix ending would be the diminutive "el", implying "little Zoeph" or even "Son of Zoeph". The recordings include the following examples: Hans Zoephel who married Margaretta Mueller at Zwickau, Brambach, on July 1st 1648; Marie Zoepffel who married Valentine Grade at Veutsberg, Sachsen, on April 1st 1650; and Catharia Zoephel who married Mathers Kolb on April 23rd 1678, also at Zwickau, Sachsen. An unusual variant "English" recording is that of David Soefeldt, a witness at the Church of St. Botoloph without Algate, London, on January 31st 1819. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Christoph Zoefhel, which was dated June 1st 1614, christened at Zwickau, Brambach, Sachsen, during the reign of Emperor Mathias of the Holy Roman (German) Empire, 1612 - 1619. 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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