This interesting name has two possible origins, the first being a topographic name for someone who lived by an aspen tree deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "aepse" itself a transposed form of "aespe" meaning "aspen". The surname from this source is first recorded in the early 13th Century, (see below). One, Robert atte Hespe appears in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, dated 1296. A second distinct possibility is that the name originated as a nickname for a timorous person, with reference to the trembling leaves of the tree. In the "modern" idiom, the name has ten spelling variations:- Ap(p)s, Happs, Apsey, Asp(e)y, Asp, Eps and Hesp(e). Church recordings include one Jane Aspe who married Willyam Hycks on July 13th 1578 at st. Margaret's, Westminster, Margaret Aspey married John Clay on April 8th 1628 at St. Gregory by St. Paul, London and Thomas, son of Thomas and Jane Aspey was christened on May 27th 1688 at St. Giles, Cripplegate, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jon de (of) Apse, which was dated 1214, The Pipe Rolls of Surrey, during the reign of King John "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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