This unusual and ancient name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a topographical surname for someone who lived near a conspicuous aspen tree, or by an aspen grove. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century 'aespe, aepse', aspen, in Middle English 'apse'; the two early forms have given rise to a great variety of modern surnames, which can be found as Apps, Aps, Asp, Aspey, Apsey, Esp, Epps, Happs, Hesp and Hespe. The development of the surname has included Robert atte Hepse (1296, Sussex) and Robert atte Apse (1327, Suffolk). Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, because natural or man-made features in the landscape provided easy and instant forms of identification. One Thomas Esp was christened at Nunnington, Yorkshire on April 27th 1833. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Apse, which was dated 1214, The Curia Rolls of Surrey, during the reign of King John, known as 'Lackland', 1199-1216. 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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