Recorded as Lampray and Lamprey, this is given as being an English and Devonian surname. It is apparently locational and nothing whatsoever to do with a fish called the Lamprey. This was famous (and popular) for causing the death of King John of England in 1216, who apparently ate too many of them! According to the famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley writing in about the year 1880, the surname is locational from a place called Lamprey in Devon. If this was the case, then the village seems to have disappeared, and would seem to be another candidate for the growing list of "lost" Medieval villages, which have given rise to surnames. This number is now estimated to have passed three thousand. As to why so many villages and even small town have disappeared in these apparently crowded isles, has been the subject of several books. In general the causes can be put down to changes in agricultural practices, particularly the draining of the lowlands and fens, a move to sheep farming from arable, the various Enclosure Acts which denied the commoners their rights, as well as the Great Plagues, Civil War, and coastal erosion, a growing menace. The early recordings include William de Lanteprey, in the Hundred Rolls of the landowners of Devonshire in 1273, and William Lampreye, who may be the same man, also in the same rolls for the same year.
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