Our surname is stated in some literature to be an Anglicised adoption of the French version of the Jewish given name RAPHAEL.
Base name Raphael; Jewish/English/French from the Hebrew given name Refael (From: Harrison, H. (1918) Surnames of the United Kingdom – A Concise Etymological Dictionary Marland Press)
It is very possible that the surname may be of Huguenot origin, and may have originally similar to REVELT or REVELD.
An alternative suggestion from Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press is ‘Probably From Reffolds In Newdigate (Surrey) Which Is Recorded As Redfold In The 13th Century. The Place-Name May Derive From Old English Rēad ‘Red’ + Fald Falod ‘Fold Enclosure’.’
Like many surnames, it is often miss-spelt and many variants have been noted including:- RAFAL, RAFFEL, RAFFELL, REFFEL, REFFELLE, REVELL, RUFFLE, RUFFELL and WREFFELL. Some of these variants are obviously ‘sound-alike’, but there appear to be genuine variations – such as REFFIELD and REFFOLD. There are good reasons to suggest that these surnames had a common origin. Transcription/poor handwriting also leads to ROFFELL, as an old fashioned ‘e’ can look like ‘o’.
Even today within the family the name is pronounced a number of ways depending upon the area; including REFFle and ReaFELL.