This unusual and interesting name is one of the variant forms of the surname 'Ralph', which derives from a personal name of Old Scandinavian, Norse, origin. The personal name was introduced into England by Scandinavian settlers in the Old Norse form 'Rathulfr', adapted from the originally Germanic elements 'rad', counsel, advice, and 'wolf', wolf, and was later reinforced by the Norman forms 'Raulf' or 'Radulf', introduced after the Conquest of 1066; it is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Radulf' and 'Radolf', and in 1095 as 'Raulf'. One of the popular short forms of the given name was 'Raff' or 'Rafe', and the modern surname Raffin, Raffan and Raffon are diminutive forms of these. The development of the surname includes: John Raplin (1576, Leicestershire), Joan Raphan (1609, Lincolnshire), Cristen Rafen (1641, Norfolk) and Thomas Raffon (1655, Cheshire). The christening of Primys, son of Thomas Raffan, was recorded at St. Edmund's, Exeter, in Devon, on January 26th 1611. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Agnes Rafyn (christening), which was dated June 15th 1562, at Manuden, Essex, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558-1603. 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.

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