This is a famous English locational surname. It originates from the county of Norfolk, a name which in the pre 7th century actually described the "Nord-folc", that was the people of England living north of the River Humber. Today a study of a map will show that Norfolk has somehow moved south by about a hundred miles, and is separated from the Humber by the major county of Lincolnshire, whilst the area to the north is now Yorkshire, the largest county in the country! In addition the people who lived to the south of the Humber were the "Suo-folc", the modern county of Suffolk, which itself is now firmly in the south east, and itself a source of surnames! Locational surnames are by their nature "from" names. They were generally given to people after they left their original homelands, and moved elsewhere. It was then and it often remains so today, that the easiest way to identify a stranger, was to call him or sometimes her, by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best erratic and local dialects very thick, often lead to the development of variant spelling forms. Quite why some people are called after their former village or town, whilst others as with this one, are called by the name of their county, is unclear. What is certain is that the first recording may well be that of Roger de Norfolk, in the Hundred Rolls of the city of London in 1273. Other recordings include Willelmus de Northfolk, in the Poll Tax rolls of the city of York in 1379, and given as being a shoemaker, whilst William Norfolke also recorded as Northfolke, appears as a student in the register of Oxford University in 1543.