Origins Available: English
The distinguished surname Wiffen emerged among the industrious people of Flanders
, which was an important trading partner and political ally of Britain during the Middle Ages. As a result of the frequent commercial intercourse between the Flemish
and English nations, many Flemish
migrants settled in Britain. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name
. One of the most common classes of surname is the patronymic
surname, which was usually derived from the first name of the person's father. Flemish
surnames of this type are often characterized by the diminutive suffix -kin,
which became very frequent in England
during the 14th century. The surname Wiffen is derived from Giff,
a pet form of the personal name Geoffrey.
This pet form is supplemented by the diminutive suffix -on
Early Origins of the Wiffen family
The surname Wiffen was first found in North Ayrshire
where the Barony of Giffen was in the parish of Beith in the former District of Cunninghame. Giffen Castle is today in ruins but the castle was home to the Lordship of Giffin, which included the Baronies of Giffen, Trearne, Hessilhead, Broadstone, Roughwood and Ramshead dating back to the 15th century. It fell into disrepair soon after 1726 and finally collapsed in 1838.
Further to the south, "the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire (1327) and Warwickshire (1332) contain at least 40 surnames [with the] -en [suffix.] " CITATION[CLOSE]
Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X) By example, Peter and Rose Geffen were listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Warwickshire in 1332. Willelmus Gyffon was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379. CITATION[CLOSE]
Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
Early History of the Wiffen family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wiffen research.Another 172 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1710, 1837, 1910, 1640 and are included under the topic Early Wiffen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Wiffen Spelling Variations
surnames are characterized by a large number of spelling variations
. One reason for this is that medieval English lacked definite spelling rules. The spellings of surnames were also influenced by the official court languages, which were French and Latin. Names were rarely spelled consistently in medieval times. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to specific spelling rules, and people often had their names registered in several different forms throughout their lives. One of the greatest reasons for change is the linguistic uniqueness of the Flemish
settlers in England
, who spoke a language closely related to Dutch. The pronunciation and spelling of Flemish
names were often altered to suit the tastes of English-speaking people. In many cases, the first, final, or middle syllables of surnames were eliminated. The name has been spelled Giffin, Giffen, Geffen, Giffan, Giffon, Geffan, Geffon, Giffines, Giffins, Giffans, Giffons, Whiffen, Whiffin, Wiffin, Wiffen, McGiffen and many more.
Early Notables of the Wiffen family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early Wiffen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products
and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Wiffen family to Ireland
Some of the Wiffen family moved to Ireland
, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.Another 226 words (16 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Wiffen family to the New World and Oceana
Some of the first settlers of this family name were:
Wiffen Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
- William Wiffen was registered in Bonavista, Newfoundland in 1828 CITATION[CLOSE]
Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
Wiffen Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
- Henry Wiffen, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Asterope" in 1867
Contemporary Notables of the name Wiffen (post 1700)
- Joan Wiffen CBE (1922-2009), New Zealand amateur paleontologist who discovered the first dinosaur fossils in New Zealand