Recorded as Roper, Raper, and the rare Rapper, this is usually a surname of English origins. If so it derives from the pre 7th Century word "rap", meaning a rope, with the suffix "-er", meaning one who does. It was given as a medieval occupational name to a rope maker. Rope making was one of the most important skills of early times, and the requirement has continued right through to the present day. Occupational surnames were unusual in that in the 12th to 14th century they only became hereditary when a son followed his father, or possibly grandfather, into the same line of business. If the son adopted a new skill he took that as a (sur)name. Early examples of recordings taken from surviving rolls and charters include Richard le Ropere, in the Curia Regis rolls of the county of Hertfordshire in the year 1220, and Peter le Roper and Walter le Ropere who are recorded in the Hundred Rolls of landowners of Nottinghamshire and Cambridgeshire in 1273. William Raper was a freeman of the city of York in 1379, Roger Rapper married Alis Abell at St Dionis Backchurch, city of London, on May 13th 1566, whilst Sara Rapier in a French spelling of the name, was christened at St Dunstans in the East, also city of London, in 1680. Margaret Roper (1505 - 1544), was the daughter of Sir Thomas More. An ancient leaden box discovered in the Roper Vault at St. Dunstan's church, Canterbury, in 1824, contained a single head. This was assumed to be that of Sir Thomas beheaded in 1525. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Raper. This was dated 1219, in the Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd, 1216 - 1272. 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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