Recorded in several spellings including Maplethorp, Mapplethorp, Maplethorpe and Mapplethorp, this is an English locational surname. There does not appear to be or to have ever been such a place, and all the records suggest that the place of origin is Mablethorpe, in the county of Lincoln, where the vast majority of early name recordings are to be found. This suggests that either the place name has changed in spelling, which we know it has, or the surname is from somewhere else which is highly unlikely. It is true that locational surnames are "from" names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homes to move somewhere else, but the number of recordings in Lincolnshire itself would seem to prove that the name is local to that county. The name therefore means "Malberts outlying farm", from the Olde Danish pre 7th century word "torp" which described a farm or settlement about three miles from the main village, the place being first recorded in the Domesday book of 1086 as "Malbertorp". Early surname recordings include those of Ann Maplethorpe, who was recorded at the village of Long Sutton in Lincolnshire in the year 1440, Katherine Maplethorp, who was christened at Claypole also in Lincolnshire, on May 2nd 1593, and Thomas Mapplethorpe, who was a witness at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, city of London, on December 26th 1736.
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