The surname of KERFOOT was a locational name 'the dweller at the hill-slope at the foot of the hills or valley', or one who lived in a small hut or cottage. 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 "de", "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. The name was originally derived from the Old Norman word FOTR, and was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066.
Early records of the name mention Matilda Kerfot, County Lincolnshire, 1273. Johannes Fote of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Baptised. Mary Kerfod at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1647. The name is also spelt Foote. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is often assumed that men 'adopted' their surnames. Some certainly did, but the individual himself had no need for a label to distinguish him from his fellows. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each knight owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized. Monasteries drew up surveys and extents with details of tenants of all classes in their services. Any description which identified the man was satisfactory, his father's name, the name of his land, or a nickname known to be his. The upper classes mostly illiterate, were those with whom the officials were chiefly concerned and among them surnames first became numerous and hereditary.
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