Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Alifair Hatfield

The baby name Allifair, alternatively spelled Alifair or Alafair, has a very interesting history. This girl's name suddenly popped into existence around the mid 1800's, with no mention why or how.

Some history buffs may be familiar with the Hatfield-McCoy "New Year's Day" Massacre, in which a long-time hatred between families (including Union vs Confederacy differences) finally escalated into an all-out violent battle. Alifair was the name of Randolph McCoy's daughter, born in 1858, who suffered from Polio as a child but remained productive. During an attack on the McCoy home, Alifair was shot and killed. There was later a legal trial for her murder. Ironically, there was an Alifair Hatfield born in 1873 in Kentucky.

So how did she get her name? There are records of others in 1809, 1815, 1819, 1831, 1870, 1883, 1920 and 1923. 1767 or 1787 seems to be the earliest it was recorded. It could come from Alfher/Alvar/Aelfhere, a masculine Germanic name meaning "elf warrior," and this is where we get the name Oliver. Maybe it's a form of Allovera, which is possibly an Old Germanic variant of Elvira, meaning "all true." There's also Allfry. But then, how did it jump from ancient Germanic times to early America, and continue into [rare] use today? Maybe it formed out of Elvira (popular in 17th/18th century literature), Alvera or Alfreda, or even Alfie as a nickname for Alfreda, which were all being used at the time. There's even a possibility it comes from Olaf (from Aleifr), though much less likely. And there's a chance it came about from a surname, as is the case with a good deal of names, and it is today found as a surname. All of the names were so rare, though, that it is hard to say. The -fair spelling seems to indicate English origin.

Good old White Pages has linked the name to Alfreda and Alvaro (confirming about 15 Alifair, 40 Alafair, 2 Allifair in the U.S.). As of 2016 this name and none of the spelling variations have been used more than 5 times in any given year, leaving us no Social Security data. *As of 2016 White Pages has gotten rid of their baby names / name popularity area, leaving us listings only, so the link no longer leads to its original page.

*Upon closer inspection, I have found records of women named Alifair or Elvira and using both names. Alvira is an alternate form of Elvira, so this could be the connection. Alivera has also been used, but there's no way to tell if it comes from Alvira, Olivera or Allovera.

Mystery writer Alafair Burke was born in 1969. Alifair Skebe is a current writer. Also, here is a French band (duo?) called Alifair.


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  2. I am doing genealogy on the Blankenship branch of my family. They lived in the same area where the Hatfield-McCoy feud happened, and there were many Blankenship-McCoy marriages. I have run across three Alafairs in my lineage from that area around the Tug River. I'm wondering if it was isolated to the Appalachian community or if was used elsewhere. Thanks for your post.