Recorded in a range of spellings including Reap, Reape, Reep, Reepe, Reaper, Reper, Repper, and Ripper, this is an English medieval surname. It is job descriptive, and has two possible origins and meanings. Firstly it may be concerned with harvesting from the Olde English pre 7th century word "repan" meaning to reap, and therefore possibly an agricultural contractor who sold his services, or it may be to do with early transport. The late Professor Reaney, probably the world's leading authority on the origins of English surnames, believed that it may be associated with the Olde English word "hripe" meaning a basket used as a pannier, and hence a description for either a carrier, one who used pack horses, or possibly a maker of pannier baskets. The earliest known examples of the surname recordings are also unclear except that the use of the genitive "le" clearly indicates an occupation. The first recording may well be that of Adam le Ripier in the Hundred Rolls of Oxford in 1279, whilst John Reper appears in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of the county of Sussex in 1327. Other early examples are those of William Reep in the accounts of the duchy of Cornwall in 1297, and John Reepe in the Protestation Rolls of the county of Devon in 1545.
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