Recorded in several spellings including Impy and Impey, this is an English surname of great antiquity. It originates from the Olde English pre 7th century word 'imphaga' meaning literally a defensive wall made of saplings, or an enclosure created by trees. There are several places who derive from the same origin, and these in turn have provided some of the modern surname holders. These villages are Emply in Surrey, Empty in Northamptonshire, and Imphy Hall in Essex. All were villages that were largely 'cleared' during the period of the Enclosure Acts between the 15th and the 18th century when tenants were dispossed of their common grazing rights and forced to move elsewhere in search of work. In so doing they took or more likely were given as identification surnames, the name of their former home village. Spelling being at best erratic, and local accents very 'thick', lead to the development of 'sounds like' surname spellings over the centuries. In this case early examples of the surname recordings taken from the rolls, charters and registers of the medieval period include: John atte Imphage, in the tax records known as the Subsidy Rolls of the county of Sussex in 1327, and John de Impey, in the same tax registers or Subsidy Rolls but for the county of Suffolk, also in 1327.
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