From an Old English name derived from ælf ‘elf, supernatural being’ + ræd ‘counsel’. It was a relatively common name before the Norman Conquest of Britain, being borne most notably by Alfred the Great (849–899), King of Wessex. After the Conquest it was adopted by the Normans in a variety of more or less radically altered forms (see Avery). In some regions the forms Alvery and Avery never fell entirely out of favour and became locally popular in the 16th century. It provides a rare example (Edward is another) of a distinctively Old English name that has spread widely on the Continent. It was strongly revived in the 19th century, along with other names of pre-Conquest historical figures, faded in the mid-20th century, but has since recovered some popularity.