This ancient surname recorded in over seventy different spellings from Christof, Kristofer, and Toffano, to Cristofori, Krysztof, and Stoffer, is of Ancient pre Christian origins. The derivation is from "kristos" meaning "leader", a word which surprisingly is not Hebrew but Greek, whilst the later Roman (Latin) "Christopherus", is also from the Greek with the addition of a second element "pher", meaning "to follow". The personal name was originally carried by a 3rd century saint, the patron saint of travellers. In the period known as "The dark ages", between the fourth and tenth centuries a.d., the name was born by many Christians who wished to ensure that at all times they were close to their leader! The popularity of the name increased greatly in Europe during the 11th and 12th centuries, when Crusaders returning from the Holy Land started to call their children by biblical names in commemoration of the fathers visit. In England it is possible that some of the earliest recordings refer specifically to "holy men", followers of Christ, and probably doers of good works,but not clergy or members of the established church. The earliest examples of the surname recording are to be found in England, and examples include Roger Christofore in the Poll Tax rolls of the county of Yorkshire in 1379, Laurence Cristofore in the Assize Court Rolls of Warwickshire in 1396, and in Germany, Johan Christofori of the city of Mainz, in the year 1422. William Christopher, who held sixteen acres of land in Barbados in 1679, was one of the early settlers to the New World. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere, is believed to be that of John Christoforus, which was dated 1209, in the pipe rolls of the county of Huntingdon, England.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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