This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the places so called, in Cheshire, Durham, Staffordshire and Yorkshire. The first element of the placename is either the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Coppa" (apparently a byname for a tall man), or from "copp" a summit, hill top, with the second element being the Olde English "leah" a wood, clearing; hence "Coppa's wood" or "wood on the hill top". Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. Johannes de Copelay and Willelmus de Coppelay are listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Returns (1379). The marriage of Edmond Copley and Ann Rawlyns took place at st. Michael's Bassishaw, London on October 15th 1543. One of the earliest settlers in the New World was James Copley, aged 22 yrs., who departed from the Port of London, aboard the "Globe", bound for Virginia, in August 1635. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is silver with a black cross patonce within a blue border charged with eight silver escallops, the Crest being a dexter arm embowed in armour proper charged with a gold escallop, encircled above the wrist by a wreath of green laurel, holding in the gauntlet a dagger proper, hilt and pommel gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robertus de Coplay, which was dated 1379, in the "Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Richard 11, "Richard of Bordeaux", 1377-1399. 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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