This interesting surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin, is almost entirely southern based, and originally Sussex-Surrey only. It is generally accepted as being a topographical name for someone who lived near an aspen wood, or it may derive from a village such as Apps Court in Surrey, or more proabaly a now "lost" hamlet in the Surrey- Sussex region. Research indicates that the name could, in some instances, be a satirical nickname implying a quiet person, but given the robust humour of the period, the meaning is almost certainly the complete opposite! The origination is from the Middle English 12th century "apse" (Olde English "oeps", "oespe"), meaning "aspen", aspen woods being associated with peace and quiet.Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The surname dates back to the early 13th Century (see below), and early recordings include: Robert atte Hepse, in the 1296 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, and Thomas atte Apse, in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Somerset. Variations in the idiom of the spelling include Aps, Asp, Epps, Happs and Hesp. Early recordings from the church registers include Richard Apse (also recorded as Aps and Apt) christened at Laughton, Sussex on May 15th 1586, Michael, son of Roger and Sara Apps, christened on December 17th 1665, at St. Dunstan, Stepney; and Roger and Sara Apps, February 13th 1667, witnesses at the same church. Other recordings include Mary Apps of Albury, Surrey on January 6th 1692, and Thomas, son of Bedwine and Hannah Apps, christened at St. James' Clerkenwell, on November 14th 1694. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Apse, which was dated 1214, in the "Kings Rolls of Surrey", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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