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Chaffe/Chaffey Lineage in England

woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Surname Family Tree Diagrams
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Surname Facts Historical Statistics Recent Statistics
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Famous Family Members to 1840 to 1900 to 1945 to Present
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Family Trees: Chaffe, Chaffey, Chaffee, Chafy, Chafe
Chaffe/Chaffey Lineage in England from 1016

woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Chaffe/Chaffey Lineage from 1016
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Another Interpretation Of Chaffecome History

woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Chaffe/Chaffey Migration Analysis
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)History and Maps of Devon, England - the origin of the Surname
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Devonshire Wills, by Charles Worthy, 1896
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Excerpts from the Diaries of the Chafes, by Rev. W.K.W. Chafy, 1910
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Chaffey's from Dorset/Somerset, 1584-1837
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Chaffcombe History - The Victoria History of the Counties of England, 1978
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Who was Hugh of Chaffcombe?
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)World Events Occurring in Conjunction with the Chafe Lineage
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Chafe Names on the Internet from Various English Locations, 1479-1885
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Commonwealth and US Family Members who Died in WWI & WWII
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Shakespeare's Twenty Plays Where the Word "Chafe" is Mentioned
woodbullet.gif (174 bytes)Chaffey's Mills, Ontario

Chaffee/Chafee Lineage in America from 1637
Chafe Lineage in Canada from 1705

The "Chafe" surname originally came from the present village of Chaffcombe, Somerset, England.  The name Chaffcombe was listed in the Domesday Book commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1086. From that documented point the surname became tied to people from the village.  The surname usage grew in size largely in the Somerset, Devon and Dorset areas.  With the growth of the surname, both the written spelling and spoken word changed into a number of variations.  In the 1600 and 1700's the surname became established in Canada and the United States where a number of these variations now predominate.  The five most common variations that share the same ancestry are Chaffe/Chaffey (England), Chafe/Chaffey (Canada), Chaffee/Chaffey/Chafee (US) and Chaffey (Australia).  In the discussion below, the "older" Chafe variation will be used to describe the surname as a whole.

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The Saxon and Olf French word combe means a deep narrow valley or basin on the flank of a hill.  The British kumb, meaning valley was used so extensively that it was adopted into Old English as cumb and has yielded numerous English place­names containing Combe and Coombe.  Chafecombe or Chaffcombe can also be derived from the term cleaf (ceaf) cumb which in Saxon means breezy valley.  The word chaff itself dates from before the 12th century England and can be related to; the residue husk or stalk left when threshing grain and removing the seed; anything worthless or fit to be cast off; the straw or hay cut up fine for the food of cattle. Caf could also mean winding.  Caffecome is compounded of the Saxon lay for sharp, and lomb for valley.  'Coombe', a valley, derives from the Welsh 'cwm' and Saxon 'cumb'. Akin to Old High German cheva meaning husk. The name of the town may be related to a Saxon settler, and has been referenced to 'Ceaffa's valley that stretches across the western slopes of the Windwhistle ridge overlooking Chard. Latin: palea means chaff or husk.

From: Bosworth and Toller's An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, (1898)
CEAF, cef, es; pl. nom. acc. ceafu; n. CHAFF; palea :-- Ceaf palea, Ælfc. Gl. 59; Som. 68, 1; Wrt. Voc. 38, 52. Ðæt ceaf he forbærn on unacwencedlícum fýre paleas comburet igni inextinguibili, Lk. Bos. 3, 17. Ða ceafu he forbærn on unadwæscendlícum fýre paleas comburet igni inextinguibili, Mt. Bos. 3, 12. Ðæt folc wæs todrifen ofer eall Egipta and cef to gadrienne dispersus est populus per omnem terram Ægypti ad colligendas paleas, Ex. 5, 7, 10, 12, 16, 18. [R. Brun. Chauc. Laym. chaf: Orm. chaff: Plat. kaff: Dut. kaf, n: Ger. kaff, n : M. H. Ger. kaf, n.]

While French could be a root source of the name, the Saxon variation is more likely:
From other websites: From the French cafe or chaff means chauve or chauf for bald.    Also from Old French chafe means to heat, to grow warm or angry.  Chauffer means to
warm, to cannonade, attack briskly. In Old French combe is that un-watered portion of a valley above the most elevated spring that issues into it.  It is a deep valley where the sides come together in a concave form. Webmaster note - Cafe, chaff and chafe are not in any available Old French dictionary.  A reminder also of the s/f letter variations.

The 1611 Old French to English Dictionary - English translation for these Old French words: Chaffault, scaffold;  Chaffourrer, blotted/blurred; Chaffouyn, polecat; Chauffer, to heat; Chauve, bald headed, Combe, a narrow valley

Other Definitions (Merriam-Webster): To wear away or irritate by rubbing, to annoy, to warm by rubbing.  Middle English: chafen/chaufen to warm, from Vulgar Latin: calefre/calfare, alteration of Latin calefacere: calre, to be warm.    

Pronunciation: 'chAf. (A as in pay). Function: verb. Date: 14th century.  Function: noun. Date: 1551. 
Pronunciation: 'chaf. Function: noun. Date: before 12th century. 

The name of the village of Chaffcombe likely had Saxon origins.  However the Chaffe bloodline was transcribed by Charles Worhty in the Devonshire Wills (1896), reprinted by William Henry Chaffee (1909) as well as interpreted in the Diaries of the Chafes by Rev. W.K.W. Chafy (1910).  The wills link Hugo (Hugh/Hugu) of Chaffcombe to the Chaffe/Chafy surname.  At this point in time the Devonshire Wills are the only known source that links Hugo to Chaffcombe to family linage that followed.  The Devonshire Wills are a list of the calendars of wills and administrations proved in the Court of the Archdeaconry of Exeter 1540-1799.

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Devon, Dorset, Somerset Detailed Map

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Chard and Chaffcombe

Chaffcombe from the air (Click to see larger picture)

Chaffcombe Topographical Map

Part of Village Centre

Based on this information a timeline has been established (subject to pier review).

The village of Chaffcombe was likely founded in the time of the Saxons.  The continuation of the Chafe surname based on the village's name is linked to Hugo, a Norman by descent, who was the Thegn of Chaffcombe in 1016.  

Ethelred II "the Unready" (979-1016), an native English King married his second wife was Emma (982-1052) in 1002.  Emma was the half Danish daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy. Emma appointed Hugh her confidential advisor as the Steward of Exeter and Devonshire.  Hugh was known by the English as of "mean origin and the son of a French churl", (a member of the freemen or independent farmer class).  In 1003 the Danes sacked Exeter and the surrounding territory.  There is some speculation that Hugo capitulated the city and the land because of Queen Emma's family loyally to Denmark. Over the years the Danes continued their attacks on England.  Ethelred's son Edmund ruled in 1016, and the Danish Knut (1016-1035) became King after he defeated the English.  Upon seizing the English crown, Knut rejected his wife and married Emma in 1017. He was 21 and she in her 30's. Emma remained in England but her children and other members of the royal family, including Edward (future King Edward the Confessor 1042-1066) who was 10 to 12 at the time, were sent back to Normandy for their education. 

Hugo's son was Reginald Fitz-Hugo (Fitz means son-of) was a joint owner of Chaffecombe in 1066.  After the Norman conquest of 1066, King William gave the whole of the Chaffcombe property to his Chief Justiciary and powerful favourite, Geoffrey de Montbray - Bishop of Coutances.  In the Domesday Book of 1086 the Bishop was endowed with many lands - including Chaffcombe.  

Geoffrey de Montbray (c1030-1093), a son of Roger, Sire de Montbray. Before the Conquest he had been made Bishop of Coutances, and in that town he is remembered today for his munificence: there is the street called 'Rue Geoffroi de Montbray'. Churchmen were not expected to remain ascetics then, and Geoffrey proved the point by commanding a section of William the Conqueror's army at Hastings, where King Harold of England was apparently killed by an arrow in his eye. For his various services to William, Geoffrey was granted no less than 280 English manors, one manor being about the size of a single village.

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St. Michael's Church
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Rectory built 1850
Village Centre
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Chaffcombe Gate Farm
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Panorama: left: church, centre: village, right: farm
- viewed from Spray's Hill looking south - 

From the Domesday Book (1086): The Land of the Bishop of Coutances:
The same bishop holds Caffecome and Ralph (holds) of him.  2 thegns held it TRE and it paid geld for 3½ hides.  There is land for 3 ploughs.  In demesne is 1 (plough); and 2 villans and 6 borders have one plough.  There is woodland 8 furlongs long and as much broa
d.  It is worth 40s.  To this manor has  been added 1 hide and 3 virgates of land.  2 thegns held it TRE as 2 manors.  There is land for 2 ploughs.  3 villans there have these (ploughs).  It is worth 20s.  

TRE = Tempore Regis Edwardi possession in the land of the king; Villan = villager; Thegn = nobelman; Plough = 8 oxen plough team needed to support farm; Demesne = land to support lordship but not villans; Geld = English land tax assessed to a hide; Hide = the amount of land to support a household; Virgate = ¼ hide.

Reginald, his son "Red" Ralph Fitz-Reginald and then Ralph's son Robert Fitz-Ralph were allowed to be sub-tenants.  Robert Fitz-Ralph had a son Ranulf Fitz-Robert, who had two sons.  Robert Fitz-Ranulph and Ranulf Fitz-Ranulf were likely owners of Chaffcombe at the time of Henry II.  Robert daughter Agnes married an Oliver Avenel.  Agnes, Lady of Chaffcombe inherited the Chaffcombe manor and divided the land between their daughters Emma and Margery.  The eldest daughter became Emma of Chaffcombe, however this line died out.  Ranulf Fitz-Ranulf had a son Robert Fitz-Ranulf, and it is said that from him the Chafe line is descended.  

Robert Fitz-Ranulph had a son Thomas, who became known as Thomas Chafe (the 1st).  He died in 1283, leaving a son Thomas Chafe (the 2nd).  Thomas Chafe married Christina de Mandeville one of the foremost families of southwest England.  They had two sons, with the youngest son called Andrew.  Thomas, the older son, had three daughters and no sons.  The daughters may have divided the Chaffcombe property.  Andrew Chafe also had lands at Chaffcombe but seems to have moved to Bridgwater (25 miles north of Chaffcombe) around 1375, where he eventually died.  His son Thomas Chafe is the last to be described as "of Chaffcombe".  He was living in Bridgwater in 1405.  Thomas' son John Chaffe, who also had land in Devonshire fought at the Battle of Agincourt on October 1415. He left lands to his son John Chafie.  John Chafie's son Richard Chafy had lands in Dorset as well as Somerset.

Richard had three sons; John Chafy of Sherborne-Dorset and Holwell-Somerset, Richard Chaffie of Holwell and William Chaffie of Wellington-Sherborne-Devonshire. When Worthy wrote, John Chafy had living ancestors.  Richard Chaffie's line died out. 

From the Internet Genealogy Service (Later Day Saints - LDS), the earliest known Chaff was Mrs. Chaff born about 1479 in Exeter.  Her son Robert Chaff was born in 1500 in Exeter, Devon.  Another list of Chaffe's from Buckfastleigh & Totnes and be found at this link.

Worthy described William's line. William Chaffie lived in Wellington (18 miles northwest of Chaffecombe) and had two sons, Robert and Nicholas.  Nicholas' sons Peter and William (married Jone) acquired land at Buckfastleigh and still held it in 1660. Robert moved to Exeter and was mayor there two times 1568/9 and 1576/7 (co-mayor with Thomas Prestwode) and also a member of the Guild of Merchant Venturers. He died at Exeter in 1580 and his will says he was born in Wellington. He had five sons and two daughters.  Sons Robert and George were living at Exeter in 1605 and 1611. Son Richard, died in 1596.

The Devon Record Office has the Exeter Chamber Account Books (June 1560-Nov 1584) no. III pages 212-232 and 372-384 that show Robert's contribution to city affairs. Robert Chaffe is registered as buried in Exeter Cathedral, with his tombstone on the floor of the church nave "crossing floor south side" xf c(s).  The words on the tomb are hard to read as it is heavily worn away. It appears as Robert? John Chaffe.  The word Nicholas (his brother?) was engraved on the opposite side of the tombstone.  The above is based on a personal visit to the Cathedral, June 26, 2003.

Exeter Cathedral 
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Exeter Cathedral Location
Tomb on lower right
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Robert Chaffe Tomb

By 1577, fishing voyages to the new world based out of Exeter, in particular to Newfoundland, were common.  The Guild was the organization who financed these voyages. In 1625-160 wars with Spain and France affected this trade in cod and train (whale) oil.  Barnstable was a center of this trade using large ships.  In 1578 Northman/Applecore got involved with large volumes of shipments.  It is also interesting to note that Sir Francis Drake became Lord Mayor of Plymouth in 1581.  

Wills Robert Chaffe, Alderman of Saint Petrock Exeter, Devon, 13 August 1580
 and his daughter in law Dorothie Chafe (Shorte), widow, 03 October 1612

Son Thomas (b.1550 or 1560?) lived at St. Olave Parish in Exeter, married Dorothy Short (1571 or 1582) and died in 1604 and was Notary Public for Exeter.  Thomas' elder son William died in 1604. The second son, John, married Anne Mayho (1610?) and was the father of Thomas Chafe (1611-1662), who was admitted into the Middle Temple in 1631.  The third son was Thomas (1585-1648) who lived at St. Giles on the Heath and died in Devonshire.

Thomas Chafe (1611-1662) was a member of Parliament for Totnes in 1660.  His son Thomas Chafe was elected 23 May 1685 to serve in Parliament as Burgesses for the Borough of Bridport. 

The "GESTA CHAFORUM mentions Thomas Chafe as M.P. of Exeter and Sherbourne as the eldest son of John Chafe of Exeter, and the "hopeful godson and young nephew" of Thomas Chafe of Doddescott. The date and place of his birth are unknown, but his father's will mentions his "fower children" in the order of Thomas, Dorothie, Katherine and John. There may have been another girl born but not mentioned on her father's Will. On November 7th 1631 he gave a bond as administrator and executer of his brother John Chafe at Kenton, co Devon who died intestate. Unless John married and had an heir, Thomas below was the only male heir to survive.  Thomas was admitted to the Middle Temple, London June 25, 1631 as Son and Heir of John Chafe late of Exeter, Gentleman, deceased and had Chambers in Brick Walk. In Chaester's London Marriage Licenses his age is given as 30 on Dec 28, 1641 - married Katherine (age 18), daughter of Sir Thomas Malet of St. Audries and Poyntinton, both of Somerset. Their children were baptized - Thomas 1642, Jane 1645 (buried 1664), John 1649, Katherine 1650, Elizabeth 1650, Alicia 1661, Anne (unknown but buried Dec 1660). In 1642 Thomas was educated at Sherbourne, and Wadham College, Oxford, and married on Apr 1662 to Susan Moleyns of West Hall, Folke. Her family had property near Bridport which may account for Thomas Chafe being returned M.P. for Bridport 1685/7. That parliament was a strong support of the Stuarts, and if he sided with them, it might account for his non election to the succeeding parliament. Thomas and Susan had six children - the only male heir 'Moleyne born 1668 died 1695/6 unmarried in Plymouth. It could be that this John Chafe (b.1649) married married Mary Bulley in Ipplepen - the possible start of the Newfoundland Chafe family tree.  It was Thomas Chafe of the Middle Temple who is mentioned on a 1659 Deed of Covenent for the manor of Ipplepen and Torbryan.

Thomas Chafe (c.1585 - 25 Nov 1648) of Dodscott was the third son of Thomas Chaffe of Exeter and Dorothy Shorte. His sister, Pascha, was the wife of Tristram Risdon of Winscott, author of The Chorographical Description or Survey of the County of Devon. Thomas married Margaret Burgoyne (? - 30 Mar 1655). In his will dated September 24, 1648 he appoints his "hopeful godson and young nephew" Thomas Chafe executor and directs him to inter his body "as neere as he can by my Sister Risedon, and I doe ordain appointe and require £30 rather more than lesse to be bestowed in a monument of my Effigies by my Esecutor, of whose ove herin I am no diffident, who have reaped so many gratuities formely from mee, and now in present burthening his conscience for effecting it as he shall answer Coram Deo. I desire him to inscript in my monument some memory of his good Aunt Rysedon, and of the family deceased there interred, also of my wife and her two children, no great onus to an ingenious, generous, and gratefull minde."

The dates of Margaret Burgoyne's death and burial were never inscribed on the monument.
The effigy is described in detail in Charles Worthy's Devonshire Wills, published in 1896:
In accordance with his uncle's injunctions, Thomas Chafe erected in the chancel of St. Giles, and within the altar-rails, a high tomb to the memory of deceased, with his effigy thereon. The figure, with moustache and peaked beard, is lying upon the right side, the face supported by the hand, the elbow resting upon a cushion. The costume consists of a coif or skull-cap which entirely conceals the hair, a short cloak with tight sleeves, and which being open in front shows that the body is protected by a cuirass, frequently worn in those troubled times, fastened down the front with studs; breeches and long stockings gartered below the knee with roses or knots, and on the feet are low shoes similarly decorated. There were also two female figures, who probably represented the two children referred to in the will. Over the figure are three coats of arms. In the centre the ancient, but questionable, arms of Chafe, already blazoned, with mantling and crest: A demi lion ramp. or, holding between its paws a fusil, az.
On the dexter side; Chafe impaling Burgoyne: Az. a talbot pass. arg. in chief a mullet.
And on the sinister side Risdon: Arg. 3 bird bolts sa., impaling Chafe

St. Giles in the Wood and Dodscott are located 3 miles east of Great Torrington in northwest Devon. When the church was rebuilt in 1862 the effigy was removed from its original position. Worthy writes, "The two female figures then disappeared; and I understand that 'they fell to pieces, and could not be put together again.' In 1987 the effigy was taken from the belfry, carefully restored, and placed in the newly created Mary Withecombe Chapel.

Dorothy's Will mentions her son Thomas Chaffe but he seems to have been an odd person, rather a black sheep. The executor of this Will was his nephew, also Thomas Chaffe (1611-1662), son of John Chaffe and Anne Mayho. Thomas married Catherine Malet in 1636 and had a son Thomas born in 1637. His son Moleyns Chaffe (1668-1695) ended this line of Chafes.

Chafe family members were navigators as well as fishermen and farmers. From the Report on the Records of the City of Exeter, 1916 pg 88:
On May 24, 1613, the Chamber of Commerce of Exeter have fitted out a ship called the "Hopewell of Dartmouth" (80 tons) of which John Chafe of Exeter is captain, to pursue pirates in accordance with a letter dated March 26, 1613 from Charles (Howard) Earl of Nottingham, Lord High Admiral, under his commission dated April 4, 1610.
On Aug 20 1613 is a similar commission to John Chaffe to fit the "Amytie" of Plymouth (100 tons), press men &c., and pursue the said pirates.

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The following is a shortened version of the land asset changes as describes in the The Victoria History of the Counties of England (1978) edited by C. R. Elrington.  Some of the names in this document match in part with Worthy. The relationship is shown in the Ancient Family Tree

In 1066 Chaffcombe comprised four estates, two held 'in parage' by two thegns and a further two held similarly by two other thegns. By 1086 these estates had been combined and granted to Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances, under whom they were held 'for one manor' by Ralph the red. This Ralph can be identified with Ralph le (or de) Sor (Sor means reddish). Ralph le Sor was succeeded as tenant by his son Otes (fl.1088-1126), and then by Jordan le Sor by 1166. John (I) le Sor, stated to be son of Otes, probably held the manor c.1176-7, and subinfeudated it to his cousin Richard de Morewell. A claim to the overlordship, however, continued in the Sor family and their successors. Another John, who occurs between 1194 and 1205, was succeeded before 1227 by Robert le Sor (d. by 1241). His widow Gwenllian married Nicholas son of Roger, who held the estate until 1255 when it was inherited by William le Sor, son of John (IIII) and probably nephew of Robert. William was followed by John (IV) le Sor (d.c.1296-7) and thereafter by Ela Ia Sor, probably his daughter, wife of William de Esthalle. She conveyed the Sor estates in Somerset to Sir Richard de Rodney in 1306. Sir Richard was adjudged to be overlord of Chaffcombe in 1316 and the Rodneys again claimed the overlordship in 1498 as of their manor of Backwell. Their title was finally disallowed in 1600 in favour of the honor of Gloucester. Richard de Morewell, to whom the manor had been granted by John (I) le Sor, subinfeudated it further to Alan de Furneaux, and before 1189 had assigned this rent to Forde abbey (Dors.). It was the abbey which granted dower in a moiety of the manor in 1270 and further claims to the overlordship of the manor were made by the abbot up to 1390. Alan de Furneaux or Geoffrey his son evidently conveyed the terre tenancy to Oliver Avenel (d.c.1226). On Avenel's death the manor was divided between his two daughters, Margaret and Emme, and was not reunited until the early 17th century.

Margaret married first Warin de Noneton and then Philip de Cauntelo, the latter being in possession by 1267. By 1286 this half had descended to Margaret's son Baudry de Noneton (d.c.1310) who left a daughter and heir Margery, wife of Robert de Pudele. By 1314 it had passed to Ralph of Stocklinch, who still held it in 1327 and by 1344 to Roger of Stocklinch. In 1390 John Denebaud, son of Thomas (d.1362) died holding this estate, evidently in right of his grandmother Joan Stocklinch, wife of William Denebaud. John's son, also John, who was involved in two armed conflicts over lands in Chaffcombe, one with the lord of the other estate, died in 1429. His widow Florence was in possession in 1431 and ownership then passed to their daughter Elizabeth (d.1497), wife of William Poulett (d.1488). Sir Amias Poulett, son of Elizabeth, who died at Chaffcombe in 1538, was succeeded in turn by his son Sir Hugh (d.1573) and grandson Sir Amias (d.1588). The property passed from the last to his son Anthony (d.1600), whose son John purchased the other half of the manor in 1613.

Emme Avenel (d.c.1253), holder of the other half of the manor, married Jordan de Lisle, who owned lands in Chaffcombe in 1235. Their son Walter, dead by 1269, was succeeded in turn by his son William de Lisle (d.c.1294) and grand-daughter Idony, wife of Hugh de Beauchamp, who presented to the rectory in 1349. From Idony the property passed to John probably her son, and to his son William Beauchamp (d.1419-20). William's son John was lord in 1420 but by 1461 the patronage and presumably the estate had passed to John (I) Buller of Wood in Knowle St. Giles. John's grandfather or great-grandfather Nicholas Buller is believed to have married John Beauchamp's daughter and heir, and his father Thomas Buller had an interest in Chaffcombe between 1386 and 1410. John (I) died in 1485 and was succeeded by his grandson Alexander (d.1526), son of John (II) Buller. From Alexander ownership descended in turn to John (III), John (IV) (d.1592), John (V) (d.1599), and John (VI). In 1612 the last sold it to trustees who in the next year conveyed it to John Poulett, thus reuniting the two halves of the manor.  The identity of the halves as individual manors was preserved by the Pouletts under the names of Chaffcombe Buller and Chaffcombe Poulett, administered separately until the 18th century. 

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The following is an interpretation of the movement of the Chafe Family around south-western England from 1016/1475 to the 1800's.  The migration date indicates the year that surname records commence for a given location.  The sources for this analysis are the Internet Genealogy Service  and the The Dorset Marriage Index.  The statistics used for this map are listed on this webpage.

Chaffe/Chaffey/Chafe Surname Migration in Dorset, Somerset and Devon - 1475 to 1800
LDS Analysis: Chaffe/Chaffey/Chafe Surname Distribution by English Shire (1475 to 1799)
Shire Chaffe Chaffey Chafe Chaff Chaffy Chaffin Chafy Chafey Chafie Chaffie Chafin Chaffee Other Total Percent
Devon 416 16 129 163 3 4   2   2 1 11 14 761 38%
Dorset 32 190 14   101 22 97 50 61 34 30 7 1 639 32%
Somerset 4 160 8 3 31 29 5 12 10 28 6 7 3 306 15%
Note: Some names may be multiple counted.  Includes births, deaths, christenings, marriages and wills

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April 20, 2020