- This unusual surname is of 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 Olde English pre 7th Century "wel-faran", well fare, lending itself to a variety of interpretations. Firstly, the expression may have been used to denote someone who had travelled widely, "fare" being an archaic word for "to travel or go"; secondly, it may have indicated one who was successful in a particular undertaking, as in "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 work, "Patronymica Britannica", M.A. Lower states that Welfare derives from a personal name found in the Domesday Book of 1086, probably "Wulfer", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Wulfhere", a compound of the elements "wulf", wolf, and "heri", army, however, later surname researches choose "wel-faran" as the primary source. The Welfare Coat of Arms depicts an azure fess cotised on a silver shield. 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", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.