- Recorded in the spellings of Welfare and Welfair, this unusual surname is English. It is believed to be of pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an interesting example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These nicknames were originally given with reference to a variety of personal characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, habits of dress and behaviour, and to the habitual use of certain expressions. The derivation, in this instance, is from the words "wel" and "faran", which translate in a variety of ways. Firstly, the expression may have been used to denote someone who had travelled widely, "fare" being an archaic word for "travel" at a time when few did; secondly it may have indicated one who was successful in a particular undertaking, as in expression "he fared well"; and finally, it may have been given as a "phrase-name" to someone who wished others farewell, literally, a good journey. Other such phrase-names include: Goodday, Goodyear and Farewell. In his 1840 book "Patronymica Britannica", M.A. Lower states that the name derives from a personal name "Wulfer" found in the Domesday Book of 1086, a compound of the elements "wulf", wolf, and "heri", an army. However our much later research, is we believe more accurate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon Welfare, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Norfolk". This was during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Over the centuries surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.