The surname Gaff was first found in Yorkshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. The Saxon influence of English history diminished after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The language of the courts was French for the next three centuries and the Norman ambience prevailed. But Saxon surnames survived and the family name was first referenced in the year 1379 when Jacobus Gaffer held lands.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gaff research. Another 77 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1379, 1455, and 1487 are included under the topic Early Gaff History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Gaff are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. The variations of the name Gaff include: Gaff, Gaffer, Gafer, Gafare and others.
Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Gaff or a variant listed above:
Gaff Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
William Gaff, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 
Mary Gaff, aged 20, who landed in New York in 1854 
Mrs. T.F. Gaff, aged 25, who landed in America, in 1893
Thomas F. Gaff, aged 38, who landed in America, in 1893
Mrs. F. W. Gaff, aged 63, who immigrated to America, in 1894
^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
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