History of the Name Tofts

The surname of TOFTS was a location name 'of Toft' a parish in County Norfolk.

The name literally meant the dweller amongst the trees.

There are also various places named with this word in Cambridge, Lincolnshire and Warwickshire.

The name was derived from the Old Norman word TOPT, and was probably brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066.

Local names usually denoted where a man held his land and indicated where he actually lived.

Early records of the name mention TOPT (without surname) who was recorded in County Norfolk in the year 1185. Johannes Atte Toftes, listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Hugh de Toft, County Cheshire, 1394.

Later instances of the name include a certain John Hatton who married Alex Toft at Prestbury Church, County Cheshire in the year 1580 and William Toft of Bugawton (yeoman) was listed in the Wills at Chester in 1585.

Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066.

They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward 11 (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people.

At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour.

Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.

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