This interesting surname is of pre 9th century Anglo-Saxon origin. It is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to occupation or a variety of features, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, including supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress. In this instance, the derivation is either from the Viking 'Clapa' or the English 'clop' meaning a hill. The popular patronymic form has the suffix "son" and the name is also found in the place names of Clopton and Clapton, both of which describe 'farms or hamlets on a hill'. The early recordings include Simon Clapp in the Curia Regis Rolls of Oxfordshire (1206) and Laurence Clappe in Oxford in 1230. The various spellings of the surname include Clapson, Clapston, Clappson, Clapison and Clappison etc, and further examples include the christening of Martha, daughter of Nicholas and Joan Clapson, on March 19th 1675, the marriage of Benjamin Clappson and Mary Gascain on October 13th 1696; and the christening of their son, Thomas, on July 18th 1697. The coat of arms has the blazon of a gold field charged with a black lion rampant between three green leaves. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edward Clapston, which was dated April 1st 1663, a christening witness at the Church of St. Benet Fink, London, during the reign of King Charles 11, known as "The Merry Monarch", 1660 - 1685. 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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