Recorded in many forms as shown below, this is an English medieval surname of pre 7th century Anglo - Saxon origins. It derives from the personal name Aelfwig, recorded in surviving rolls of the county of Suffolk in the year 1095 as Aelfwi, and in Berkshire in 1212 as Alfwy. Translating literally as Battle-elf, from aelf meaning an elf or goblin, and wig, - a battle. This type of name was very popular in England during the period of history known as "The Dark Ages" roughly from the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century to the coming of the Norman-French in the 11th. As a surname it is first recorded at the beginning of the 13th Century, (see below), and over the centuries the development has included many forms. Examples taken at random from surviving charters include Thomas Alfy of Cambridgeshire in 1279, Simon Elphee or Elphey of Durham, in the same year, Adam Alfwy of Sussex in 1296 and Richard Elby of Yorkshire in 1388. The modern surname can be found as Alvy, Alvey, Allvey, Elvey, Elvy, Ellph, Elphe, Elphee, Elphis, and possibly others. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of William Alvi. This was dated 1212, in the Curia Regis Rolls of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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.