Recorded as Ripley and more rarely Riply and Riplee, this is an English medieval surname. It is locational and translates as 'The farm whose land cuts a strip through the forest' as the various places called Ripley in the counties of Derbyshire, Hampshire, Surrey and Yorkshire. However it is the village of Ripley in Yorkshire which seems to be originator of most surnames, and this place is in an area formerly known as the forest of Knaresbough, which would seem to confirm the meaning. The first recording of the the villages are in the Domesday Book of 1086 when Ripley in Derbyshire is recorded as 'Ripelie', and Ripley in Yorkshire as 'Ripelia'.The early surname development talen from surviving medieval rolls and charters includes Roger de Rippeley of Northumberland in 1242, whilst John de Ripley is given as being a freeman of the city of York in the year 1330, and Richard Rypplay in the Poll Tax rolls of the county of Yorkshire in 1379. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Bernard de Rippeley. This was dated 1175, in the early Charter Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry IInd of England, 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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