This ancient English surname of ELLEFSON was originally a female given name which was rendered as AYLEVE, composed of the elements AEOEL (noble) and GIFU (gift). The name was borne by the daughter of King Alfred the Great, who became abbess of Shaftesbury. The name is also spelt AYLIFFE, AYLIFF and ELLIFF. The earliest of the name on record appears to be AILEF de Palestu, who was recorded in County Kent in the year 1176. Robertus HAYLYF of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas AYLOFFE, was baptised at St. John the Baptist Church on Wallbrook, London, in the year 1783. Hereditary surnames were originally imported from France into England during the Norman Conquest of 1066. In the two centuries or so after the Conquest surnames were acquired by most families of major landholders, and many landed families of lesser importance. There appears to have been a constant trickle of migration into Britain between about the years 1200 and 150O, mostly from France and the Low Countries, with a small number of migrants from Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and the Iberian peninsular, and occasional individuals from further afield. During this period groups of aliens settled in this country as for example, the Germans who from the late 15th century onwards settled in Cumbria to work the metal mines. Immigration during this time had only a small effect on the body of surnames used in Britain. In many cases, the surnames of immigrants were thoroughly Anglicised. The late sixteenth century saw the arrival, mostly in London and the south-coast ports of large numbers of people fleeing from the war regions of France. A notable member of the name was John AYLIFFE (1676-1732) the English scholar in Roman Law. He was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford. He wrote 'A New Pandect of the Roman Civil Law' (1734) an extremely erudite work including a long history of the civil law down to his own time. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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