Recorded in many forms including Corp, Corpe, Corps, Corpas, Corpes, Corpse, and Corpis, and found originally in England, France and Spain, this is a surname of Norse-Viking origins. It appears to have nothing directly to do with death or bodies, but derives from the pre 7th century Norse word "korpr", meaning a raven, and hence was either a baptismal name, or later in medieval times, a nickname either for a person with jet black hair or one who was thought by his friends and neighbours to have had the fierce characteristics of the raven. The creation of surnames from nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages, and an estimated fifteen percent of all early surnames do originate from such sources. The surname itself is first recorded in the late 12th century when Walter le Corp appears in the pipe rolls of the county of Yorkshire in the year 1177. Other recordings showing ghe surname development over the centuries include those of William le Corp in the Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, Oxfordshire, in 1231, whilst the accounts of the earldom of Cornwall mention one James Corp in 1296. Esther Corpes married William Young on April 18th 1686 at St. Katherine by the Tower, London, while one Mary Corpse was christened on February 15th 1697 at Stainton by Stockton, Yorkshire. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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