The Relf Society was formed in 1990 and was renamed the following year to the "International Relf Society" in recognition of the burgeoning international membership. A Newsletter was started in the winter of 1990 and four issues per year of the "The Wolf Pack" have been published ever since. The Society broadened its research to include the more common variants of the Relf surname such as Relfe, Realf, Riulf, and Relph - and surnames such as Ralph and Rolph/Rolf(e) are also monitored by the society.
One of the aims of the International Relf Society is to foster the study of the Relfsurname and its variants with the intention of sponsoring the publication of definitive research where appropriate.
Currently RELFE, REALF, RIULF, RELPH are the main variants accepted.
RALPH is often a derivative but it and ROLPH/ROLF(E) also have separate derivations and are often confused with RELF variants. We therefore monitor all these names.
While this web page shows mainly Family History interests the Society does have information on some family names that are not included here.
The Penguin Dictionary of Surnames simply defines 'Relf' as a Sussex name. Certainly the first trace of the name so far discovered is of a John Relf listed in the 1197 Subsidy Rolls for Sussex (Lewes Record Office). The next trace is in the 1397 Sussex Subsidy Rolls. Subsequently, the name crops up fairly regularly, and a large number of Relfs still live in Sussex. But the name can also be found in most parts of the world where European influence has achieved significance. There is evidence that it extends to the North American Indians and Relfs have married into Burmese, Sikh and other diverse cultures.
The name Relf is indubitably also of Scandinavian origin. It is found in Old Norse as Hrolfe, in Old Swedish and Old Danish as Rolf, and means 'wolf'. It was imported into France during the various Nordic invasions, where it became an hereditary surname encouraged by the legalization of hereditary descent of fiefdoms. In AD 877 it became permissible in law for a son to inherit the fief of his father and with it he usually took also the family surname. In AD 911, Rolf (spelled Relf in some sources) became the first Duke of Normandy and it became a fashionable name. No doubt a number of Rolfs followed close behind William the Conqueror on the march against England in AD 1066, and later settled in the plundered lands; others would follow later to join their relatives, and for this reason to this day most Relfs and similar names are found in the south east of England.
Historical occurrences of the name
There are a number of Relfs who were men of substance, iron founders in particular. These include:
- In 1634, the Heralds Visitation to Sussex recorded a grant of arms to William Relfe of Mayfield. William Relf purchased the Lordship of the Manor of Ashburnham but was forced to sell it only a few years later.
- Keith Relf of the Yardbirds 1943 - 1976. Keith Relf was actually William Keith Relf - born, probably in Richmond, Surrey on 22 March 1943, the eldest child and only son of William Arthur P Relf and his wife, Mary E Vickers.
- Harry Relph, known on the stage as 'Little Tich', (July 21, 1867 - February 10, 1928) was an English music hall comedian.
- Pocahontas (c. 1595 - March 21, 1617) was a Native American woman who married an Englishman, John Rolfe, and became a celebrity in London in the last year of her life. She was a daughter of Wahunsunacawh (also known as Chief or Emperor Powhatan).
There are currently over 5,000 Relf(e)s alive in the UK. The frequency of the Relf name (and its variants) from the 1841 to 1911 UK censuses are as follows:
Other names being monitored:
The frequency of these names in the UK can be established from a 2002 database from the Office of National Statistics. This shows the current UK population and UK ranking to be as follows:
Other names being monitored:
Distribution of the name
The present distribution of RELF(E) in the UK is very markedly south-eastern, with the great majority of persons of that name living in Kent, Sussex, London, and part of Essex. The highest frequency of RELPHS is in the Lake District with a slight concentration in the south-east of England. The more abundant name RALPH(E) again shows a concentration in the Tunbridge Wells, Canterbury, Medway, and North-East Surrey telephone areas. However, there are also concentrations of this form of the name in Hull, and in the Shrewsbury, Hereford & Mid-Wales areas. The ROLF(PH) name is now much less widespread, but shows hot spots in London and the Isle of Wight.
Whilst interesting, these distributions must be treated with caution from an historical point of view. Anyone who has looked for RELFs in parish registers from south-east England will know that the name was often spelt in several different ways, and it was common to find families generally referred to as RELF, appearing as RELPH, ROLPH or even ROFF in the same register. To a certain extent the present patterns of distribution of names have evolved since the Victorian pre-occupation with 'correct' spelling. It would be interesting to examine the occurrence of the various forms of RELF in both space and time.
Between the various members of the International Relf Society over 120,000 records of the Relf name and its variants exist. This includes all the births, marriages and deaths from 1837 to 2002, a large number of entries from the IGI and various Vital Record Index entries. At present only civil marriage records for England and Wales for the period 1837 to 1919 are held in the Relf archive. Access to the archives can be made through the Membership page
In 2009 a DNA project was started. Initially the DNA of five male volunteers representing five separate and apparently unconnected RELF/RALPH families has been tested. This website is still under construction and further DNA information will be made available to members at a later date.
The primary intention of the Web site is initially to spread the 'RELF' word and encourage new members.
For those who having once visited the site - be sure to check back from time to time as the site should be updated on a regular basis.
Site by Matthew Bell.
The Surnames listed here are of families related by marriage to members of the International Relf Society. The surnames are married to a RELF, or RELF variant, names are followed by the place of the marriage.
ACKHURST, Faversham KEN; ADAMS, Juarez MEX; AKEHURST, Battle SSX; ALLITT, Wembley MDX; ANDREWS, Cranbrook KEN; ARCHARD, London; ATKINS, Brightling SSX; ATTWOOD, Newington, Sittingbourne, KEN; AVERY, Burwash SSX; AXELL, Beckley SSX.
BAKER, ---; BAKER, Rotherfield SSX; BAKER, Salehurst SSX; BALDOCK, Sissinghurst KEN; BALLARD, Deptford KEN; BALLARD, KEN; BARFOOT, Isleworth MDX; BARKER, Brentford MDX; BARNES, ---; BARNES, Wigton CUL; BARROW, Burwash SSX; BARROW, Eastbourne SSX; BATHURST, Cranbrook KEN; BAUMANN, Fallon NV USA; BELL, ---; BELL, Portland Downs QLD US; BELLSHAM, Shoreditch; BENNETT, Billericay ESS?; BENTZ, Monterey CA USA; BERRY, ---; BLACK, Plaistow; BLEDSOE, Lexington, KY; BLORE, Smethwick STS; BORMAN, Burwash SSX; BOYLE, ---; BRADNAM, Eastbourne SSX; BRAY, Framfield SSX; BRIDGE, Cranbrook KEN; BRIDGES, Boughton u Blean; BRIDGLAND, Benenden KEN; BRIDGLAND, Cranbrook KEN; BRISBANE, Bermondsey LND; BROOK, East Barming KEN; BROWN, Thanet KEN; BUCKLAND, Maidstone KEN; BURCHETT, Cranbrook KEN; BURNS, Alabama, USA; BUSS(Ann), Brightling SSX; BUSS(Thos), Brightling SSX; BUTLER, Gillingham KEN.
CAMPBELL, ---; CANE, Brighton SSX; CARR, Sydney AUS; CARSE, Newcastle-on-Tyne; CARTER, Plumstead; CASEY, Sydney AUS; CHALKER, ---; CHAMBERS, England; CHANDLER, Dagenham ESS; CHANDLER, Tonbridge KEN; CHAPMAN, ---; CHAPMAN, Eastbourne SSX; CHAPMAN, Southwark LND; CHEALL, Brightling SSX; CHESMOND, ---; CHISLETT, Sydney AUS; CHURCH, Brightling SSX; CLARK, Superior, WI; CLARK(E), Ringmer SSX; CLARKE, Sissinghurst KEN; CLAYTON, Mottingham; COLLINS, Burwash SSX; COOK, Croydon; COOKE, Fairlight SSX; CORDALL, Northfleet KEN; COX, ---; CRAWLEY, Edmonton; CROFT, Brightling SSX; CROUCH, ---; CROWHURST, Marylebone; CUTHBERT, ---.
DADSWELL, Uckfield SSX; DANIELS, England; DANIELS, Frindsbury KEN; DANN, Ireby CUL (?); DARRINGTON, Stillwater, MN; DATSON, Snodland, KEN; DAW, SSX (?); De GUINOMES, New Orleans, LA; DEARING, Salehurst SSX; DELVES, Tonbridge KEN; DILLON, Palmerston Nth NZ; DOWNHAM, Brighton SSX; DUFFIN, Lambeth LND.
EDWARDS, Hawkhurst KEN; ELDRIDGE, Eastbourne SSX; ELLIOT, ---; EVANS, Toronto CAN.
FALCONER, Chelmsford ESS; FENNING, Wittersham KEN; FEUSOME, Maidstone KEN; FITNESS, Tudley & Capel KEN; FLEMING, Oil City PA USA; FLYNN, Plaistow ESS; FOORD, Hooe SSX; FORSAITH, ---; FOWLE, Burwash SSX; FOWLE, Cranbrook KEN; FOWLER, Eastbourne SSX; FRENCH, Hastings SSX; FROMINGS, Mayfield SSX; FULLER, Frindesbury KEN; FULLER, Staplehurst; FURNESS, Walthamstow LND.
GARRATT, Rochester KEN; GIBSON, ---; GIBSON, Brisbane QLD AUS; GILBERT, Eastbourne SSX; GLADMAN, Barking ESS; GOODERHAM, ---; GOODSELL, Sandhurst; GREGORY, Gravesend KEN; GREY, Hawkhurst KEN; GROOMFIELD, Speldhurst.
HABBERFlELD, Poole DOR; HAHN, Summit NJ USA; HALL, Wigton CUL; HANAVAN, Niagara ONT CAN; HARDING, Bucks; HARMAN, Withyham SSX; HASLEM, Wellington NZ; HAWKlNS, Cranbrook KEN; HAYWARD, Cranbrook KEN; HELM, Wards River NSW AUS; HENERY, Plumstead; HIGHLAND, Framfield SSX; HINWOOD, Llandudno BRE; HOAD, Brightling SSX; HOLDSTOCK, Wittersham KEN; HOLLAND, ---; HOLLOCK, Mayfield SSX ?; HOLMES, Croydon; HOOK, Ightham SSX; HOOK, Penhurst SSX; HOWELL, West Firle SSX; HOWES, St Paul, MN; HUGHES, Llandudno BRE; HUGHES, Sydney AUS; HUNWlCK, Hamilton NZ; HYLAND, Framfield SSX.
JEFFERY, ---; JENNINGS, N.Carolina, USA; JOHNSON, Burwash SSX; JOHNSON, Tenterden KEN; JOHNSTON, Chautauqua NY USA; JONES, Chester; JONES, Dartford KEN; JONES, East Ham ESS; JONES, Palmerston Nth NZ; JONES, Tunbridge Wells KEN.
KEMP, ---; KERRY, Tooting LND; KING, ---; KING, Burwash SSX; KING, NZ; KING, Toronto CAN.
LAMB, Bishopsgate; LARKIN, ---; LAW, Alabama, USA; LAWRENCE, Hawkhurst KEN; LAY, Bethnal Green; LAYTE, Denham BKM; Le FEURVE, Richmond ONT CAN; LEWIS, Newcastle NSW AUS; LLOYD, Southwark LND; LODGE, Bromley KEN; LOVE, Benenden KEN; LUCAS, Tonbridge KEN; LUCK, Heathfield SSX; LUFF, Lambeth LND; LYE, Burwash SSX.
MACKLEDEN, ---; MAHONY, Bow LND; MAINARD, Benenden KEN; MARCHANT, Dallington SSX; MARSH, Northfleet KEN; MARTIN, Malling, KEN; MASTERS, Buladelah NSW AUS; MAYNARD, ---; MEWiTT, Brightling SSX; MILES, Sevenoaks KEN; MITCHELL, Pimlico; MONAGHAN, New Jersey USA; MOON, ---; MOORE, Regina SAS CAN; MOREHOUSE, Bathhurst AUS; MORRIS, Framfield SSX; MOSELEY, Redlands CA USA; MUIR, Norbury LND.
NAPTON, Boulton by Derby; NASH, Etchingham SSX; NICHOLLS, ---; NIND, Hornchurch ESS; NORFOLK, Lambeth LND; NUNN, Stockwell LND.
PACHOUD, Rotorua NZ; PAGE, Ashford KEN; PAGE, Bundaberg QLD AUS; PAGE, St Albans HRT; PANKHURST, Eltham LND; PARKER, Medmenham BKM; PARKER, West Tarring SSX; PARSONS, Heathfield SSX; PELLET, Bodiam SSX; PENFOLD, ---; POWELL, St Saviour SRY; PRATTEN, Newbury BKS; PRITCHETT, Poole DOR; PUNT, Southwark LND.
QUENNELL, Kennington LND.
RANDLES, Liverpool; REAY, Holme Cultram CUL; RICHARDSON, Brighton SSX; RIDING, Liverpool; RIPLEY, Catford LND; RIX, Holt NFK; ROBERTSON, Alabama, USA; ROBI(N)SON, CAN; ROGERS, Bovingdon, HRT; ROKER, Hackney; ROOK, Boughton u Blean; ROOTS, South Weald ESS; ROSS, ---; RUSSELL, Crowhurst SSX.
SANDERS, Hunton, KEN; SAWYER, N.Carolina, USA; SAXBY, Framfield SSX; SCOTT, Bethnal Green; SENDALL, Stratford LND; SHADICK, Gravesend KEN; SHEARING, Gt Yarmouth NFK; SILBY, Kaponga NZ; SIMMONS, Gillingham; SIMMONS, Shoreditch; SINGER, Luddesdown KEN; SKELLlE, Chautauqua NY USA; SKINNER, Tunbridge Wells KEN; SMITH, Birmingham; SMITH, Faversham KEN; SMITH, Folkstone KEN; SMITH, Hawkhurst KEN; SMITH, Mile End LND; SMITH, Rottingdean SSX; SMITH, Shoreditch; SMITH, Sydney AUS; SMITH, Sydney AUS; SMITHSON, N.Carolina, USA; SNEESBY, Sydney, AUS; SOUGHTON, Sandhurst, KEN; SOWTON, Sandhurst, KEN; SPENDlFF, Dover, KEN; SPRINGETT, St Luke MDX; STACE, Bodiam SSX; STANGER, Frindsbury KEN; STEWART, Alabama, USA; STICKNEY, Englewood, NV; STONESTREET, Battle SSX; STONESTREET, Burwash SSX; STONESTREET, Tonbridge KEN; STOREY, Lee KEN; STRINGER, Croydon SRY; SUNNOCKS, Northfleet KEN; SWATLAND, Benenden KEN; SWATLING, Benenden KEN; SYMINGTON, Long Island NY USA.
TAYLOR, ---; TAYLOR, Lambeth LND; TAYLOR, N.Carolina, USA; TAYLOR, Shoreditch; TOOBY, Stourbridge WOR; TOSDEVINE, Chester; TUBB, Christchurch NZ; TURK, Sandhurst KEN; TURLEY, Headcorn KEN.
UPHAM, Bow LND.
VAUGHAN, Strood, KEN; VOYSEY, East Ham.
WAGHORN, Brenchley; WAGHORN, Brightling SSX; WAKEFORD, ---; WARD, Hebburn NTH; WARD, Knockholt KEN; WARE, Hawkhurst KEN; WATSON, Battle SSX; WEBB, Benenden KEN; WEBB, Catford LND; WELDHAM, Brenchley; WELLS, E.Peckham KEN; WENDT, Logan QLD AUS; WENDT, QLD, AUS; WENMAN, Benenden KEN; WESTON, Burwash SSX; WHAPHAM, ---; WHATLEY, London; WHATMAN, Cranbrook KEN; WHEELER, Gravesend KEN; WHITE, Cranbrook KEN; WHITE, Gravesend KEN; WHlBLEY, ---; WICKENS, Rotherfield/Framfield; WICKENS, Sandhurst; WIELAND, Paddington LND; WILDING, Tishurst; WILES, Tishurst; WILLARD, Hunton; WINDIATE, Gravesend KEN; WINTER, Heathfield SSX; WlCKENDEN, Wadhurst; WlLKES, Birmingham; WOLDHAM, Brenchley; WOOD, Burwash SSX; WOODLEY, Oxford OXF; WYKES, Crowhurst.
YATES, Rockingham VA USA.
The following list contains the same names as above, but is sorted by the place of the marriage to a RELF.
[Place not specified]: BAKER, BARNES, BELL, BERRY, BOYLE, CAMPBELL, CHALKER, CHAPMAN, CHESMOND, COX, CROUCH, CUTHBERT, ELLIOT, FORSAITH, GIBSON, GOODERHAM, HOLLAND, JEFFERY, KEMP, KING, LARKIN, MACKLEDEN, MAYNARD, MOON, NICHOLLS, OWEN, PENFOLD, ROSS, TAYLOR, WAKEFORD, WHAPHAM, WHlBLEY.
Alabama: USA, BURNS, LAW, ROBERTSON, STEWART.
Ashford KEN: PAGE.
Barking ESS: GLADMAN.
Bathhurst AUS: MOREHOUSE.
Battle SSX: AKEHURST, STONESTREET, WATSON.
Beckley SSX: AXELL.
Benenden KEN: LOVE, BRIDGLAND, MAINARD, SWATLAND, SWATLING, WEBB, WENMAN.
Bermondsey LND: BRISBANE.
Bethnal Green: LAY, SCOTT.
Billericay ESS?: BENNETT.
Birmingham: SMITH, WlLKES.
Bodiam SSX: PELLET, STACE.
Boughton u Blean: BRIDGES, ROOK.
Boulton by Derby: NAPTON.
Bovingdon, HRT: ROGERS.
Bow LND: MAHONY, UPHAM.
Brenchley: WAGHORN, WELDHAM, WOLDHAM.
Brentford MDX: BARKER.
Brightling SSX: ATKINS, BUSS(Ann), BUSS(Thos), CHEALL, CHURCH, CROFT, HOAD, MEWITT, WAGHORN.
Brighton SSX: CANE, DOWNHAM, RICHARDSON.
Brisbane QLD AUS: GIBSON.
Bromley KEN: LODGE.
Buladelah NSW AUS: MASTERS.
Bundaberg QLD AUS PAGE.
Burwash SSX: AVERY, BARROW, BORMAN, COLLINS, FOWLE, JOHNSON, KING, LYE, STONESTREET, WESTON, WOOD.
Catford LND: RIPLEY, WEBB.
Chautauqua NY USA :JOHNSTON, SKELLlE.
Chelmsford ESS: FALCONER.
Chester: JONES, TOSDEVINE.
Christchurch NZ: TUBB.
Cranbrook KEN: ANDREWS, BATHURST, BRIDGE, BRIDGLAND, BURCHETT, FOWLE, HAWKlNS, HAYWARD, WHATMAN, WHITE.
Crowhurst SSX: RUSSELL.
Croydon: COOK, HOLMES.
Croydon SRY: STRINGER.
Dagenham ESS: CHANDLER.
Dallington SSX: MARCHANT.
Dartford KEN: JONES.
Denham BKM: LAYTE.
Deptford KEN: BALLARD.
Dover, KEN: SPENDlFF.
E.Peckham KEN: WELLS.
East Barming KEN: BROOK.
East Ham: VOYSEY.
East Ham ESS: JONES.
Eastbourne SSX: BARROW, BRADNAM, CHAPMAN, ELDRIDGE, FOWLER, GILBERT.
Eltham LND: PANKHURST.
England: CHAMBERS, DANIELS.
Englewood, NV: STICKNEY.
Etchingham SSX: NASH.
Fairlight SSX: COOKE.
Fallon NV USA: BAUMANN.
Faversham KEN: ACKHURST, SMITH.
Folkstone KEN: SMITH.
Framfield SSX: BRAY, HIGHLAND, HYLAND, MORRIS, SAXBY.
Frindesbury KEN: FULLER, DANIELS, STANGER.
Gillingham: SIMMONS, BUTLER.
Gravesend KEN: GREGORY, SHADICK, WHEELER, WHITE, WINDIATE.
Gt Yarmouth NFK: SHEARING.
Hamilton NZ: HUNWlCK.
Hastings SSX: FRENCH.
Hawkhurst KEN: EDWARDS, GREY, LAWRENCE, SMITH, WARE.
Headcorn KEN: TURLEY.
Heathfield SSX: LUCK.
Heathfield SSX: PARSONS, WINTER.
Hebburn NTH: WARD.
Holme Cultram CUL: REAY.
Holt NFK: RIX.
Hooe SSX: FOORD.
Hornchurch ESS: NIND.
Hunton, KEN: SANDERS.
Ightham SSX: HOOK.
Ireby CUL (?): DANN.
Isleworth MDX: BARFOOT.
Juarez MEX: ADAMS.
Kaponga NZ: SILBY.
Kennington LND: QUENNELL.
Knockholt KEN: WARD.
Lambeth LND: DUFFIN, LUFF, NORFOLK, TAYLOR.
Lee KEN: STOREY.
Lexington, KY: BLEDSOE.
Liverpool: RANDLES, RIDING.
Llandudno BRE: HINWOOD, HUGHES.
Logan QLD AUS: WENDT.
London: ARCHARD, WHATLEY.
Long Island NY USA: SYMINGTON.
Luddesdown KEN: SINGER.
Maidstone KEN: BUCKLAND, FEUSOME.
Malling, KEN: MARTIN.
Mayfield SSX: FROMINGS.
Mayfield SSX ?: HOLLOCK.
Medmenham BKM: PARKER.
Mile End LND: SMITH.
Monterey CA USA: BENTZ.
N.Carolina, USA: JENNINGS, SAWYER, SMITHSON, TAYLOR.
New Jersey USA: MONAGHAN.
New Orleans, LA: De GUINOMES.
Newbury BKS: PRATTEN.
Newcastle NSW AUS: LEWIS.
Newington, Sittingbourne, KEN: ATTWOOD.
Niagara ONT CAN: HANAVAN.
Norbury LND: MUIR.
Northfleet KEN: CORDALL, MARSH, SUNNOCKS.
Oil City PA USA; FLEMING.
Oxford OXF; WOODLEY.
Paddington LND: WIELAND.
Palmerston Nth NZ: DILLON, JONES.
Penhurst SSX: HOOK.
Plaistow ESS: FLYNN.
Plumstead: CARTER, HENERY.
Poole DOR: HABBERFlELD, PRITCHETT.
Portland Downs QLD AUS: BELL.
QLD, AUS: WENDT.
Redlands CA USA :MOSELEY.
Regina SAS CAN: MOORE.
Richmond ONT CAN: Le FEURVE.
Ringmer SSX: CLARK(E).
Rochester KEN: GARRATT.
Rockingham VA USA: YATES.
Rotherfield SSX: BAKER.
Rotorua NZ: PACHOUD.
Rottingdean SSX: SMITH.
Salehurst SSX: BAKER.
Salehurst SSX: DEARING.
Sandhurst: GOODSELL, WICKENS.
Sandhurst KEN: TURK, SOUGHTON, SOWTON.
Sevenoaks KEN: MILES.
Shoreditch: SIMMONS, SMITH, TAYLOR.
Sissinghurst KEN: BALDOCK, CLARKE.
Smethwick STS: BLORE.
Snodland, KEN: DATSON.
South Weald ESS: ROOTS.
Southwark LND: CHAPMAN, LLOYD, PUNT.
SSX (?): DAW.
St Albans HRT: PAGE.
St Luke MDX: SPRINGETT.
St Paul, MN: HOWES.
St Saviour SRY: POWELL.
Stillwater, MN: DARRINGTON.
Stockwell LND: NUNN.
Stourbridge WOR: TOOBY.
Stratford LND: SENDALL.
Strood, KEN: VAUGHAN.
Summit NJ USA: HAHN.
Superior, WI: CLARK.
Sydney AUS: CARR, CASEY, CHISLETT, HUGHES, SMITH, SMITH, SNEESBY.
Tenterden KEN :JOHNSON.
Thanet KEN: BROWN.
Tishurst: WILDING, WILES.
Tonbridge KEN: CHANDLER, DELVES, LUCAS, STONESTREET.
Tooting LND: KERRY.
Toronto CAN: EVANS, KING.
Tudley & Capel KEN: FITNESS.
Tunbridge Wells KEN: JONES, SKINNER
Uckfield SSX: DADSWELL.
Walthamstow LND: FURNESS.
Wards River NSW AUS: HELM.
Wellington NZ: HASLEM.
Wembley MDX: ALLITT.
West Firle SSX: HOWELL.
West Tarring SSX: PARKER.
Wigton CUL: BARNES, HALL.
Withyham SSX: HARMAN.
Wittersham KEN: FENNING, HOLDSTOCK.