This interesting surname with variant spellings Chaplain, Chapling, Caplen, Kaplin etc., is of French origin, found also in England, deriving from the old Norman French word "caplain" and old French and medieval English word "chapelain", meaning "charity priest", a priest who was endowed to sing mass daily on behalf of the souls of the dead. Hence the name is an occupational name for a clergyman or perhaps a servant of one. The name first appears in records in the early 13th Century (see below). Thomas le Chapelyn was mentioned in the Feet of Fines in 1241, while one Nicholas le Chapelain was listed in the Assize Rolls of Cambridgeshire in 1260. Isacke Chaplin one of the first settlers in the New World was granted 200 acres by patent, in the territory of Great Weyonoke Barbados in 1626. Jeremiah Chaplin booked a ticket aboard the "Joseph and Ann" for Carolina, the New World in January 1678. The most famous namebearer was Sir Charles Spenser Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin), (1889 - 1977), English comedian and film actor, renowned for his portrayed of a downtrodden little man with baggy trousers and cane. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Capelein, which was dated 1203, in the "Curia Rolls of Hampshire", 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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