This English surname of WINFREY is a patronymic surname, which was applied as a distinguishing epithet, which was placed after the bearer's first name. The name was originally composed of the elements WIN (joy) + FRID (peace), and the name would have meant the son of descendant of WINFIFRED. The name is also spelt WINFRITH, WINNEFRITH, WINFRID, WYNFREY, WINFRY and WINFREE. The earliest of the name on record appears to be WINFRUDUS de Ethona, who was recorded in Leicestershire in the year 1190. Surnames can be divided into four categories; place names, occupation names, nicknames and patronymics. PLACE NAMES are the largest group and covers all those names first applied to people who lived in or nearby to a particular place. For example, Grove, Wood, Field, Meadow, and Street are obvious. Occasionally names were taken from obscure villages or hamlets which no longer exist and this can make research confusing. OCCUPATION NAMES cover nearly all trades which existed in the Middle Ages. These are numerous. It does not necessarily follow that such names as King, Duke, Earl and so on mean your ancestors were of noble blood. It is much more likely that such named people worked for the person referred to. NICKNAMES. This is a smaller group but in many ways more interesting. They usually originated as a by-name for someone by describing their appearance, personal disposition or character but which became handed down through the ages and did not apply to their descendants. For instance the name Black would denote a dark man, Little, someone small (or even somewhat ambiguously) someone tall. PATRONYMICS. This group covers all names which derive immediately from the owner's father. Many christian names which are also surnames have, over the years, lost the possessive form but the origin is still the same. Examples of this could be names such as Peter,Thomas, Henry - all names which became both christian and surnames over the years. Notable members of the name include Richard WINFREY, who was JP for south west Norfolk (born 1858). Records which relate to bearers of the name in the United States of America include Samuel WINFREE (or WINFREY) who appears in the Oaths od Allegiance Records for Powhatton County, Virginia in the year 1777. John WINFREY married Elizabeth Owen at Henrico County, Virginia in January 1785.
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