by Phillip G. Goff, GGFA DNA Project Manager

This is the first of a 10-part series on early Goffe families in England.

The three-part History of Gough and Goff Surnames in the GGFA newsletter (Fall 2019, Winter 2020 and Spring 2020) discussed the distinct origins of the Goch>Gough and Goffe>Goff surnames. The latter arose in the band of historic coastal counties stretching along the south and east of England, primarily from Dorset to Norfolk.

See the accompanying map of the Goffe/Goff surname in 17th century England, modified from the newsletter article to show the southern half of England. An upcoming series of blog posts will sample the earliest Goffe records in these south and east English county record offices.

The earliest record is 1350 in Sussex. Most entries start by the 16th century and all by the 17th century. The records provide documentation for a host of civil and criminal matters. The subject matter ranges from uncontentious legal work (e.g., deeds, leases and wills) to criminal cases (e.g., theft and excessive litigation). For genealogists, the most helpful records describe the relationships of family members or include ages of deponents.

In the summer of 2021, the GGFA website was upgraded to facilitate full search capabilities across all content for Research members. This series of blog posts was designed with that search feature in mind. The abstracted material includes the names of people and the villages in which they lived or owned land. A less frequently occurring given name that repeatedly appears in your Goff or Goffe family may be also discovered in a search amongst these abstracts. The presence of such a given name may provide an important clue in your research.

These county record office abstracts corroborate the findings in the three-part GGFA newsletter article, History of Gough and Goff Surnames. The Goffe surname arose first in the coastal counties in the south and east of England. Over time, but particularly in the mid-17th century, many bearers of the Goffe surname dropped the “e.” Since Gough emerged in the English counties on the border with Wales, the Gough surname appeared later in the coastal counties in the south and east of England.

Each post in this 10-part series on early Goffe families in England will be published on a two week schedule.

Phillip Goff is the co-author, along with Roy L. Lockhart, of The Four Goff Brothers of Western Virginia. Since 2004, he has run the Goff/Gough Surname DNA Study, which today has about 400 participants.

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