This extraordinary English surname is very rare. Recorded as Orped, Orpede and Orpwood, the original spelling was "orped", an Olde English pre 7th century word meaning brave and valiant, and as such it was a baptismal name. Later in the medieval period it developed as surname, and it may also have been used as a description of honour for a man held to have these qualities. In the original story of King Arthur and the Round Table, written in about the year 1485, there is the quotation of "Doukes, Kings and Barouns, withe Orped, Squires and Garsouns" so clearly the Orpeds were held in some esteem. As to how or where the spelling as Orpwood developed is unclear. There is no such place as Orpwood, no does there ever appear to have been, but it is a possibility as many names do originate from totally "lost" medieval villages. In past times spelling was at best erratic and local dialects very thick, which in turn lead to the registration of "sounds like" forms. Examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers in the diocese of Greater London include: Thomas Orpwood, the son of Thomas and Alice Orpwood who was christened at St. Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, on October 7th 1677, and Alice Orpwood married John Mills at St. Mary-le-Bone, on 26th January 1687. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Orpede. This was dated 1230, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Warwickshire, during the reign of King Henry III, 1216 - 1272.
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