Last name: Purple

This is an extraordinary English surname. It has been well recorded in the diocese of Greater London and probably other areas, since at least Elizabethan times in the 16th century. It has however, no obvious meaning. The wearing of purple was banned except for those of the higher nobility and ultimately royalty, which is the reason why 'purple' was and still is highly regarded. The term 'The wearing of the purple' really meant that you had arrived! However there is no indication that this applied to any of the nameholders that we have been able to research, and this suggests that the name may be theatrical. That is to say it was a name given to an actor, one who played the part of a high noble or member of the church, and one who wore the purple on stage. Another explanation is that it was a medieval nickname for somebody who was the opposite to 'noble', in the same way that Little John was the largest man in the band of outlaws lead by Robin Hood. Many surnames started out as nicknames, indeed some researchers suggest that all surnames are nicknames. What we do know is that the name first appears in the surviving registers as Purpoyle, but this was mearly an early spelling of Purple, with William Purpoyle being a witness at St Giles Cripplegate on October 22nd 1597. Another interesting recording is that of Easter Easter Purple, the daughter of Edward Purple. She was christened on April 27th 1645, and was presumably born at Easter although why she should be twice called Easter, is unknown.

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