This long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from the town of Tanfield, south west of Gateshead in Durham, or from East or West Tanfield, parishes near Ripon in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The first mentioned place, recorded as "Tamefeld" in documents from the Priory of Hexham, dated 1179, has as a second element the Olde English pre 7th Century "feld", open country, land free from wood, with the ancient river name Team from the Old Irish "temen", dark, Sanskrit "tamas", darkness; hence, "feld on the river Team". The Yorkshire places, entered as "Tanefeld" in the Domesday Book of 1086, are both so called from the Olde English "tan", twig, sprout, branch, osier, with "feld" (as above). Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. In 1544, the marriage of Robert Tanfyld to Wilgeforda Fitzherbert was recorded in York, and on October 1st 1579, Elizabeth, daughter of Richardi Tanfield, was christened at Howden, Yorkshire. A Coat of Arms granted to the Tanfield family is a silver shield with two chevrons between three black martlets, the Crest being a woman's head couped at the shoulders proper, crined gold, wreathed about the temples with roses silver and black. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ricardus de Tanfeld, which was dated 1379, in the "Poll Tax Returns Records of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Richard 11, known as "Richard of Bordeaux", 1377 - 1399. 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.