The medieval Yorkshire and Lancashire job descriptive word "Copestake", which means a "Wood Cutter or Forester" is the origin of this surname. The modern spellings include Capstich, Copestack, Capstocke, Capstack and Capstaff. The name derives from a combination of the Olde French "Couper" meaning "to cut" and the Olde English pre 10th Century "staca" meaning "a stake". The name development includes Anna Cawpstake of Sheffield in 1575, Elizabeth Coopstock of Sedbergh in 1637, Thomas Capstick of Dent in 1680 whilst William Capstaff was recorded at Newcastle upon Tyne on January 16th 1740 and the very unusual Thomas Copstack at Newburn in 1697. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johannes Copstake, which was dated 1379, The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls, during the reign of King Richard II, "Richard of Bordeaux", 1378 - 1399. 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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