Recorded as Charpene, Charpain, Charpen, Charpin, Charopen and probably others, this is a surname of medieval French orgins. It derives from the word 'charpy' a textile term probably slang, for a manufacturer of textiles, particularly linen. It may have been similar to the English term of 'shoddy' used to describe a method of manufacturing new cloth from 'used' textiles. However like many job descriptive surnames from processes of seven hundred years ago, the exact meaning is lost. In addition the problem of spelling is multiplied by medieval and later, name holder movements across country and dialetcs in search of work. These created 'sounds like' name spellings made worse when it was across continents and between countries of different languages! South America has been mentioned in connection with this surname. France and England were the first countries anywhere to adopt fixed family names nationally from about the year 1200 a.d. and to properly record births, deaths, and marriages, in church registers. In France this excellent system was almost totally destroyed by the famous (or infamous) Revolution of 1792, when it was ordered that all registers with their hundreds of years of French social history, should be destroyed by burning in town centres - and all churches disbanded. The registers were regarded by the revolutionaries as the work of the King's Intelligence Service. However under Napoleon Bonapart both church and registry were re-established, but too late for many. Examples of the earliest surviving recordings include Andre Charpene, christened at the city of Lyon, department of Rhone, on November 27th 1717, and Christophe Charpin who married Marianne Chatroux at Chaponost, Alleyard, department of Isere, on January 22nd 1771.
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