Recorded in many spellings as shown below, this is an English surname of pre 6th century origins. These included a nickname surname for a smart, cunning person, deriving from the pre 7th century word "craeft" meaning craft or skill. Secondly it may be topographical for someone who lived by a "croft". This described a piece of enclosed land used for tillage or pasture. Thirdly there are several places in England called Croft and the surname may equally be locational from any of them. As an example Croft village in Leicestershire was recorded as "Craeft" in the Saxon Chartulary of 836 a.d.. The word "craeft" means a machine, such as a wind mill or water mill. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 12th Century (see below), and modern spellings include Atcroft, Bycraft, Bycroft, Croft, Crofts, Crafts, Cruft and Crufts. Examples of recordings include Roger de Croft in the Curia Regis Rolls of Warwickshire in the year 1213, whilst on February 20th 1557, John Craft, was christened at the church of St. Martin Ludgate, in the city of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aluric Craft. This was dated 1185, in the records of the Knight Templars of Essex, during the reign of King Henry 11nd, 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.