This most interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a toponymic name deriving from the Olde English element "chaepp", hilltop, with two possible interpretations. Firstly, it may be a locational name from places called Knapp in Devon and Hampshire, the latter recorded as "Chenep" in the Domesday Book of 1086. Secondly, the name may be of topographical origin, given to a dweller on a hilltop. Toponymics are formed by the addition of the suffix "-er", to some topographical term, indicating "residence by", as in this instance, "cnaepp"; they are particularly common in Sussex from the 14th Century, and in the neighbouring counties of Kent, Surrey, Essex and Hampshire. William atte (at the) Kneppe was recorded in 1294 in the "Placenames of Surrey", while the surname itself dates from the mid 14th Century (see below). Andrew Knapere was recorded in Suffolk in the Records of the Priory of Saint Radegund, Cambridge. Nicholas, son of Nicholas Knapper, was christened on July 6th 1637 at Ewell, Surrey, while Dorcas Knapper married Thomas Gwyn on December 1st 1663, at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Knapper, which was dated 1360, in the "Feet of Fines of Suffolk", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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