Show ContentsPelfrey History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Pelfrey name was coined by the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. Pelfrey was originally a name given to someone who worked as a person who worked as the palfreyman, who was in charge of the palfreys or colts. [1] This occupational surname was first derived from the Old French word parfrement which referred to the individual who saddled horses for women. [2] The term palfrey usually referred to the most expensive and highly-bred types of riding horse during the Middle Ages. [3]

One source presumes the family came from Normandy as Richard, Roger Palfrei or Palefridus were listed in Normandy (1180-1195.) [4]

Early Origins of the Pelfrey family

The surname Pelfrey was first found in Hampshire where Hunfridus Palefrei was listed at Winton in 1148. Later Ralph Palefray was listed at Boldon in 1183. [3]

Proving the widespread use of this occupational name, the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included: Thomas Palfrei, Lincolnshire; Richard Palefray, Salop (Shropshire); Gilbert Palfrey, Norfolk; and John Palefrey, Norfolk. [2]

Chaucer in his Knight's Tale notes "And to the paleis rode titer many a route Of lordes, upon stedes and palfreis."

Early History of the Pelfrey family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Pelfrey research. Another 177 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1148, 1200, 1321, 1359, 1411, 1586, 1589, 1633, 1636, 1637, 1638, 1651, 1662, 1665, 1667, 1668 and 1685 are included under the topic Early Pelfrey History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Pelfrey Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Pelfrey 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. The variations of the name Pelfrey include: Palfrey, Palfry, Palfreyer, Palfreyman and others.

Early Notables of the Pelfrey family

Notables of the family at this time include Thomas Palfreyman (died 1589?) was an English author and musician. He was a "gentleman of the chapel royal, together with Tallis, Farrant, Hunnis, and other well-known musicians in Edward VI's reign. He continued in office till 1589, apparently the year of his death. John Parkhurst, the Bishop of Norwich, addressed an epigram to Palfreyman and Robert Couch conjointly, and complimented them on their proficiency alike in music and theology. Palfreyman seems to have lived in the parish of St. Peter, Cornhill. One...
Another 90 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Pelfrey Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Pelfrey Ranking

In the United States, the name Pelfrey is the 9,517th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Pelfrey family to Ireland

Some of the Pelfrey family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Pelfrey migration to the United States +

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 Pelfrey or a variant listed above:

Pelfrey Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Booney Pelfrey, aged 27, who landed in America, in 1914

Contemporary Notables of the name Pelfrey (post 1700) +

  • Ray Pelfrey (b. 1928), American former NFL football wide receiver
  • Doug Pelfrey (b. 1970), American former college football placekicker
  • Michael Alan "Mike" Pelfrey (b. 1984), American Major League starting pitcher for the New York Mets
  • Robert Pelfrey (b. 1952), Canadian professional hockey player


  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/last-names/


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