This unusual and interesting name is the Olde French form of the occupational surname more familiar today as "Harper" or "Harpour". The name means "the harp player", and derives in English from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "hearpere", in Middle English "harper". In Old French the forms are "Harpin" and "Harpeor". The harp-player was a very important figure in the Middle Ages in the great halls of noblemen, especially in Northern England and in Scotland, and the office of Harper was sometimes hereditary although not all the "Harpins" followed the calling of their ancestors, one "Adam Harpin" is recorded as "Falconer to Bishop Swinfield" in c. 1289. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Harpin, which was dated Circa 1160, Documents relating to the Danelaw, Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Henry II, The Builder of Churches, 1154 - 1189. 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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