This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from one of the many places called Ripley, in Derbyshire, Hampshire, Surrey and the West Riding of Yorkshire. In the Domesday Book of 1086, Ripley in Derbyshire is recorded as "Ripelie"; in Hampshire as "Riple"; and in the West Riding of Yorkshire as "Ripeleia", with the place in Surrey being first recorded as "Ripele" in the 1220 Close Rolls. The placenames derive from the Olde English pre 7th Century "ripel", meaning strip of land, plus "leah", a wood or clearing; hence, "clearing or wood in the shape of a strip".The first element of the name in Yorkshire may also be "Hrype", a minor tribe of Vikings which also gave their name to Ripon and Repton. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 13th Century (see below), and one John de Ripley is noted as a Freeman of Yorkshire (1330). Recordings from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Hellen Rapley and John Parsons on April 14th 1595, at St. Margaret's, Westminster; the marriage of Edward Rapley and Elizabeth Luther on December 3rd 1604, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney; and the marriage of John Rapley and Mary Preston on September 12th 1613, at St. Mildred Poultry with St. Mary Colechurch. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Bernard de Rippeley, which was dated 1175, in "Early Charters of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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