Last name: Catchpole

This curious surname, chiefly found in East Anglia, is of Old French origin, and derives from the Old French "chacepol", Old Norman French "cachepol" (in medieval Latin "chassipullus") meaning "chase fowl". The name was originally occupational for a tax-gatherer authorized to chase and seize farmyard fowl in default of money (debts and taxes), and later referred to a petty officer of justice, a sheriff's officer or sergeant, especially a warrant officer who arrests for debt. The catchpole was frequently over-enthusiastic in the execution of his duties, as the following quotation from "Piers Plowman" suggests: "A cachepol cam forth, And cracked both their legges". The weapon carried by the catchpole may still be seen in the Tower of London. This surname has the distinction of being first recorded in the Domesday Book (see below), and further early examples include: Robert le Chachepol (Middlesex, 1154), and Hugo le Cachepol (Shropshire, 1221). Margaret Catchpole (1773 - 1841), adventuress, stole her Suffolk master's horse to join a seaman in London (1797), subsequently escaped from Ipswich gaol, and was transported to Australia (1801). The Catchpole Coat of Arms is a gold shield with two cubit arms issuing from the dexter and sinister base points, clothed in red, and grasping the pole or head of a black hart cabossed in fesse, with a raven perched thereupon between three horns proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aluricus Chacepol, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Middlesex, during the reign of King William 1, known as "William the Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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