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About the study
Local dialect has played an important part in the evolution of the name which has been traced back to two families in sixteenth century Lincolnshire: the WOOFINDAYLEs of Grimsby, first recorded there in 1536, and the YEOFFENDALEs who appear in Leadenham fifty years later.
These locative names have several possible origins: Ovenden, a township in Halifax, Yorkshire, Wolfenden in Newchurch-in-Rossendale, Lancashire, Wooldale in West Yorkshire, Woodale in North Yorkshire, or another now forgotten 'wolves' valley'.
So far no documentary proof of a link between the WOOFINDAYLEs of Grimsby and the YEOFFENDALEs of Leadenham has been found. A DNA project may provide evidence of a single common ancestor for this surname.
History of the name
The most widely-known holder of this surname is Benjamin UFFINDELL (b.1895), chairman of F.W.Woolworth Ltd. from 1948 until his death in 1951.
Henry Walter UFFINDELL (1859-1943) has a street named after him in Moonta, South Australia, where he practised as a solicitor and served as mayor in 1895-7.
Distribution of the name
By 1650 the family name had spread from Lincolnshire to Cambridgeshire. A century later the name was intensely localised within those two counties but was also to be found in London, Essex and Nottinghamshire. By 1881 a total of 124 persons with the UFFINDELL name or one of its variants lived in just 11 of the 91 counties of England, Wales and Scotland, mostly in the East and South of England but also in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Migrants had also taken the name to a number of other countries.
Today the name UFFINDELL occurs across England, and in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Spain. UFFENDELL occurs in England, Scotland and America, UFFENDALE in England and Wales but UFFINDALL only in Northern England. However the surname is no longer to found in any of its variants in Lincolnshire or Cambridgeshire where it was concentrated for some three hundred years.
An extensive range of data sets is held from numerous records including General Register Office births, marriages, deaths and adoptions in England, Wales and Scotland; pre- and post- 1858 wills; census returns; parish registers; account books of parish officials; trade directories; manor court books; electoral registers; poll books; victuallers' licences; Tudor, Stuart and later taxation; borough and apprenticeship records; military documents; criminal court proceedings; immigration and emigration lists; and local and national newspapers. Although most of these are British records, there are many from overseas.
The results of this one-name study have been published in three volumes:-
- The Uffindell Family - Volume One: Fenland Farmers of Haddenham, Cambridgeshire, and their Compositor Cousins (A4 pbk., 320 pages, pub. 2003)
- The Uffindell Family - Volume Two: Cambridgeshire Fenmen and Town Tradesmen (A4 pbk., 350 pages, pub. 2005)
- The Uffindell Family - Volume Three: The Lincolnshire Line (A4 pbk., 290 pages, pub. 2009)