Origin of the Name Näf/Neff

Origin of the Name Näf/Neff
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The name NÄF quite likely began in 13th century Switzerland as Nevo or Neffe, meaning nephew, and most likely comes from the French word neveu. The origin in the Zürich area probably began at the manor Niedorn Horwe in the Horgerberg on the Egg. The hamlet Rengg (Rangg) on the Albis mountain range in the present parish of Langnau was probably the point of origin for most of the present Näf families in the Canton of Zürich.

The first written record comes from a parchment in the Canton Zürich Archives dated 1340. An Ulrich Neve, on June 20th in that year, was a witness to the sale of a house owned by Jorije von Uerslikon near the Cloister of Kappel am Albis. What relation existed between this Ulrich Neve and the Näf's from Rengg cannot be determined.

From the Citizen Record Book of Zürich, Ruedi Näf of Rengg received his citizenship on the 2nd of January A.D. 1386. Hans Näf of Rengg along with other men received their citizenship on the third day before Hillari in same year on January 9th. This admission to citizenship was most likely in gratitude for their entering the military. The battle at Sempach took place six months later on July 9, 1386. This military engagement gave the Swiss their independence from Leopold III, Duke of Austria. Most likely begun as a nickname, by this time it was a family name for the Näf line who originated at Rengg and Kappel am Albis. We are not certain how these Näf's are related to the families of the same name found in Toggenberg or Appenzell.

When Näf's arrived in the British colony of Pennsylvania, the name was written for the first time by the English clerks entering names on arrival lists, oaths of alliance, deeds, wills, and other legal documents. The spelling for some family lines would change from Näf to Naff, Neave, Neff, and Nave. Most of these variations are still found in America today.


The shield is blue, which stands for loyalty and truth. Gold symbolizes generosity and wealth. The increscent betokens one who has been honored by gracious aspect of his sovereign. The stars show the bearer to have been a shining example of learning and work of piety. The wing of the crest symbolizes protection, as well as celerity. Customary in Heraldry, the charge of the shield is repeated in the crest.

This "Origin of the Name NÄF" is included with your order of the NÄF coat-of-arms for US$5.00 from: Coat-of-Arms, Neff Family Historical Society, Inc., PO Box 6664, Harrisburg, PA 17112-6664 USA.

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