To say that this surname has unusual origins is a very considerable understatement. Recorded, it is said, in at least the following spellings Rapaport, Rapport, Reppaport, Rappaport, and Rappoport, the only absolute certainty is that it was askenasic in its origins. It is claimed, it is said, by some nameholders to have descended from one Avrom-Menakhem Ben-Yankev Hakoyen Rapa, a merchant in the city of Porto, Italy, in the 16th century. The surname of 'Rapa' is popular in Southern Italy, although as the church recordings do not predate the late 18th century, we have not been able to establish a definite recording. It is claimed that Avrom Menakhem Rapa added the name of Porto to distinguish himself from the common herd. This would not in itself be surprising as 'Rapa' describes a turnip grower! However there is more than a strong possibility that the name has a Germanic base, and may derive from the 13th century 'Rapoto', a derivation of the Olde German personal name 'Rath-bod'. In the 18th and 19th centuries many Germans, particularly those immigrants from other countries, took upon themselves 'ornamental' or variant forms of original surnames, and we feel that this may be one of the many examples. It is only in Germany that we have been able to establish pre 20th century recordings, and these include Carl Heinrich Rapport, a witness at Berlin Stadt, Brandenburg, on August 11th 1833, and Berel Rapaport, baptised at Leipsig, Sachsen, Germany on December 22nd 1883. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ulrich Rapoto, which was dated 1293, in the charters of the town of Kempten, Germany, during the reign of Emperor Adolf 1 of the German Empire, 1292 - 1298. 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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