Recorded in the spellings of Sapwell, the very rare Sopwell, and the even rarer and probably extinct Sopplewell, this is an English locational surname. It almost certainly originates from the village of Sopwell in the county of Hertfordshire, recorded as 'Sopewell' in the tax rolls of 1291, or just possibly from a now 'lost' medieval place of the same spelling. The place name translates as 'Soppa's spring' from the pre 7th century Olde English personal name 'Soppa' of unknown meaning, and 'waella', originally a spring, and later a well or watercourse.. Locational surnames were 'from' names. That is to say that they were usually given to people after they left their original homes and moved elsewhere. As medieval spelling was at best erratic and local accents very thick, this lead to the development of 'sounds like' surnames. In this case the surname as Sapwell is recorded in the city of London at least two centuries before it appears in its 'home' county of Hertfordshire. The first example taken from the surviving church registers of the period is believed to be that of Thomas Sapwell, whose son William was christened at the church of St Michael Bassishaw, city of London on October 5th 1541. Other recordings include John Sopplewell, who married Mary Lovel at St Olave's, Hart Street, London, on September 10th 1618, and Ben Sapwell who married Rebecca Clarke at Hitchin, Herts, on December 8th 1731.
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