This unusual name is of German medieval origin, and derives from "Kohlhoff", translating as "the black hound". This type of compound surname has ancient antecedents back to the Saxons of pre 7th Century fame. It may be either habitational for one who lived at the sign of "the Black Hound" (an inn) or is a nickname for a well known warrior. The elements of the name derive from "kohl" (black) and "hund", a hound, "hoff" being a dialectal variant known as "niederdeutsch". The name as "Kolhunt" was recorded as early as 1398 at Allgau (now Kempten), between Ulm and Innsbreuk, although its baptismal variant recordings are later, and include: Margaretha Kohlhoff, who married Werner Nix at St. Lambert's, Dusseldorf, on August 16th 1691, whilst Anna Coelhoff was registered at Herne, Westfalen, on July 28th 1821. In England, on June 6th 1861, William Coliff was recorded at St. John the Evangelist, Limehouse, London, and this may be an associated spelling. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anna Koehlhoff, which was dated December 17th 1616, christened at Vorweiden Evangelist Church, Rheinland, during the reign of Emperor Mathias of the Holy Roman (German) Empire, 1612 - 1619. 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.