The surname of CROFT was a locational name 'the dweller by the croft, the small farm or enclosure'. The name was derived from the Old English word CROEFT, and there are several places in England named with this word, and the surname may equally be a habitation name from any of them. Croft in Leicestershire, is so called from the craft, skill, also used in the concrete sense of a machine engine or mill. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as 'e', 'atte', 'by' or 'in'. The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. Following the Crusades in Europe a need was felt for a family name. This was recognized by those of noble blood, who realised the prestige and practical advantage it would add to their status. Early records of the name mention CROEFT (without surname) who was documented in 1185 in County Leciestershire, and Edward by Croft was mentioned in County Somerset, during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Johannes del Croft, listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Thomas in le Croft, 1448 Yorkshire. Hanna Croft was baptised at St. Jame's, Clerkenwell, London in 1669.
One family of this name trace their descent from Bernard de Croft who was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as the holder of lands at Croft near Hereford, from which the surname was derived. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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