Show ContentsPettifer History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Pettifer family name is thought to be of Norman origins. It comes from an early member of the family who was a person who never tired of walking or a soldier who had lost his foot in battle. The name Pettifer is an Anglicized form of the Old French word pedefer, or pied de fer, which means iron foot. [1] [2]

Alternatively, the name could have been derived from the "Old French, petite and fere, 'the little wild beast.'" [3]

Early Origins of the Pettifer family

The surname Pettifer was first found in the 11th century when the Latin name Herbertus Pedesferri was recorded according to the source Old English Bynames. The Pipe Rolls of Bedfordshire recorded John Pedefer as holding lands there in 1190. A few years later, John Piedefer was listed in the same rolls for the same county in 1198, but no mention if this was the same person. William Pedifer was found in the Assize Rolls for Warwickshire in 1221 and William Petifer was found in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1327. Richard Pitifer and William Pidefyr were both listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1332 and later in Huntingdonshire, we found William Putifer in 1382. Again in Huntingdonshire, William Petefer was listed in 1392. The name was common and sometimes used as a nickname alone: Piedefer 1186, Pipe Rolls for Worcestershire, Pie de Fer 1185, Pipe Rolls for Norfolk. [1]

Patrick Pedefere during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) was a Freeman of York. Robertus Pedefer was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. William Petifer (Petefer, Petipher or Petyfre) of 1548 was registered at the University of Oxford. Robert Pettifer was listed as the Sheriff of Gloucester in the year 1603. [4]

"Pettipher is an ancient Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire name, and further allusion to it will be found under those counties in reference to Puddephatt, which is probably a corruption of it. There was a Bampton family of Pettifer last century. The name of Pettipher occurred amongst the labouring classes of Culworth, Northamptonshire, a century ago (B.). The Rev. John Pettyfer, or Pettifer, was vicar of Blakesley, Northamptonshire, early last century. Cussans, in his "Hertfordshire" suggests that in that county the name of Pedefer (Pied - de - Eer?), which occurred in Ippolitts, Herts, in the reign of Edward III., was the original of Puddephatt, a Bucks as well as a Herts name. This is probable, hut at any rate his suggestion is still more applicable to the origin of Pettipher. Pettypher: Peytever or Pettypher, the name of mayors of Wycombe in the 16th and. 17th centuries." [5]

Early History of the Pettifer family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Pettifer research. Another 93 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1633, 1651, 1665, 1668, 1696, 1703, 1717, 1718, 1760 and 1777 are included under the topic Early Pettifer History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Pettifer Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Pettifer, Pettipher, Petipher, Petifer, Petiver and many more.

Early Notables of the Pettifer family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was James Petiver (c.1665-1718), an English botanist and entomologist, son of James and Mary Petiver, born at Hillmorton, near Rugby, Warwickshire. He later became a London apothecary and Fellow of the Royal Society. He corresponded with naturalists in all parts of the world, and...
Another 51 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Pettifer Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


New Zealand Pettifer migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Pettifer Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Pettifer, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "John Masterman" in 1857

Contemporary Notables of the name Pettifer (post 1700) +

  • Alexandra Shân "Tiggy" Pettifer MVO (b. 1965), English former nanny and companion to Prince William and Prince Harry
  • Steve Pettifer (b. 1965), English computer scientist, Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Manchester
  • Julian Barratt Pettifer (b. 1968), known as Julian Barratt, English comedian
  • Arran Pettifer (b. 2003), English footballer who plays as a midfielder for Bolton Wanderers
  • Julian Pettifer OBE (b. 1935), English television journalist, former President of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, voted BAFTA 'Reporter of the Year' for his coverage of the war in Vietnam in 1968
  • Kayne Pettifer (b. 1982), Australian rules footballer for the Richmond Football Club
  • James Pettifer (b. 1949), British academic, writer and journalist, former President of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  • Brian Pettifer (b. 1949), South African actor who has appeared in many television shows, and also on stage and in film


  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  3. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.


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