This unusual surname is Scottish. It is one of the many versions of the Ancient Greek name "Phillipos," and is almost exclusively from the county of Fifeshire. First introduced into the British Isles by returning crusader soldiers from their expeditions to free the Holy Land in the 11th century, the name as Philip was borne by one of Christ's twelve apostles as well as by several of the early saints. However unusually, for a Christian name, although it means literally "horse lover," it was a warrior name, and owes its great popularity not to the early Christian church, but to the romantic stories and fables relating to Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. The earliest recordings are to be found in England, and then as Christian names, and these include Filippus de Crochesbi of Lincolnshire in 1142. The surname was a century later with possibly the first recording being that of William Philip of Norfolk in the Hundred Rolls of 1275. In the modern idiom the spellings include Phelp, Philp, Phalp, Phelps, Phipps and Phelops, and it is claimed that the surname is first recorded in Scotland with that of Rauf Phelippe of Berwick in 1296, whilst Sir James Philp was curate of Arbroath Abbey in 1467. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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