Recorded in various spellings including Delf, Delph, Delve and Delyth, this is an English surname. It has several possible origins, but is usually considered to be from the group of surnames known as 'residential'. These describe (in this case) someone who came either from the town of Delph in the former West Riding of Yorkshire but now transposed into Lancashire, or from Kings Delph in the county of Huntingdon, or someone who lived by a 'delf'. Eitherway it is a word of ancient useage, the derivation being from the Old English pre 7th Century "gedelf", meaning a digging for a mine, quarry or even a ditch or moat. In some cases the name could be occupational for a miner or quarrier. The variant spellings as Delves is the genitive form, and describes not someone who has left Delph but who is "of Delph" or "of the quarry". Early examples of the surname recordingtaken from surviving charters and registers of the late mediecval period include: John Delves in the collected "Ancient Deeds" of Staffordshire in the year 1376, although the first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Mabel de la Delve. This was dated 1296, in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of the county of Sussex, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.