This surname GAFF was a nickname 'the gaffer' the grandfather, and the word 'grammer' was used for grandmother. It was a familiar term of address, and as time went on a gaff or gaffer was a foreman. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. Early records of the name mention GAFFE (without surname) who was recorded in Lancashire in 1185, and William Gaffe appears in Yorkshire in 1273. Jacobus Gafare of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379, and Willelmus Gafer appears in the same document. The name in Ireland is a Galway-Mayo name, rendered there as MacGagh, and the name takes the form GAFF in County Offaly. The first Normans arrived in Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries to form an alliance with the King of Leinster. Under Elizabeth I in the 16th century, settlers from England established themselves around Dublin, then under English control and Presbyterian Scots emigrated to Ulster, introducing English and Scottish roots. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. The associated coat of arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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