This very rare name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is one of the variant forms of the locational surname deriving from Maplestead (Great and Little) near Halstead in Essex. The original settlement was recorded in 1065 as "Mapulderstede", and by 1254 was divided into two separate places, recorded as "Magna Mapeldonestede" and "Parva Mapestede" in the "Valuation of Norwich". The placename means "place where maples grew", derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "mapuldor", maple, and "stede", place, estate, farm. Locational surnames were used particularly as a means of identification by those who left their birthplace and settled elsewhere; regional dialectal differences in addition to varying standards of literacy, subsequently gave rise to variant forms of the original name. Early examples include: Sewsan Maplsted (Suffolk, 1584); Thomas Maptyde (Suffolk, 1593)' Ann Mapested (Kent, 1609); and Laurance Maptead (Cambridgeshire, 1613). Among recordings of the name from Kent Church Registers are those of the christening of Sarah, daughter of John Mepsted, on August 25th 1781, at Ash-near-Sandwich, and the marriage of John Mepsted and Sarah Eastman, at St. George the Martyr, Canterbury, on November 4th 1783. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Maplstead, which was dated August 31st 1582, witness to the christening of his son, William, in Groton, Suffolk, 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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