This is a Kentish name (translating as "the farm of Meafa"), which originally derived from the village of Meopham, recorded in the "Cartularium Saxonicum" (the Saxon Rolls and Maps) in the year 788 A.D. This is in itself of great interest, being one of the earliest recordings of a village name which became a later surname. However, what is of even more interest is that in this case we are able to trace the probable exact date on which (for reasons unknown), the name spelling was changed from the usual Mepham (itself a dialectal form of Meopham) to Mephan. On September 8th 1816, Joseph and Elizabeth Mepham were witnesses at Mount Ephraim - Lady Huntingdon Church, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, at the christening of their son, Joseph, and yet on January 26th 1819, at the same church, both the parents and their daughter, Sarah, are recorded in the spelling of Mephen. Any holders of the name would seem to derive from this source, except that no other children (male) are recorded. It is therefore presumed that the son, Joseph, adopted the new spelling form. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Mephan, which was dated October 20th 1577, a witness at St. Lawrence's Church, Thanet, Kent, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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