This interesting name has three distinct possible origins. Firstly the surname may derive from the Medieval English 12th Century word, "cope", meaning "a long cloak or cape", hence the name may be metronymic for a "maker of cloaks and capes". The name may perhaps also be of English topographical origin, for "a dweller on the hill top, from the Anglo-Saxon "cop", or the Old English "copp", meaning "hill top". Finally the name may have originated as an English locational name, from the lands of Cope in the parish of Kirn Newton, Northumberland. The original name was first recorded in the late 12th Century, (see below), while the Yorkshire church registers record the christening of one Richard Cowpas, son of John Cowpas on July 10th 1590 at Dewsbury. In London church registers it first appears on March 5th 1614, when Barbara, daughter of Thomas Copace was christened at St. Martin Ludgate. Abraham Cowpas, son of William Coupas was christened at Otley, Yorkshire on July 26th 1724. Mary Ann Copas married John Leden at St. James, Paddington, London on September 29th 1833. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Cape, which was dated 1199, Pipe Roll Records of Kent, during the reign of King Richard 1, "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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