This most unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon topographical origin for a dweller by, or a holder of, a small enclosure, from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "smael", small and the Middle English "pece", a piece of land, enclosure, field. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The surname itself first appears in records in the early 15th Century (see below). Variant spellings of the surname include Smallpeace and Smallpiece. Early recordings of the surname in London Church Records include the marriage of Agnes Smallpeice to Henry Alberry on September 15th 1560 at St. Pancras, Soper Lane, and the christening of William Smalepeece on February 19th 1585 at St. Botolph without Aldgate. A Coat of Arms was granted to a family of the name, who resided in Hockling in Shropshire in 1866, and depicts an engraved chevron between 3 pierced silver cinquefoils on a black field. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Smalpece, which was dated 1414, in the "Place Names of Essex", during the reign of King Henry V, known as "The Victor of Agincourt", 1413 - 1422. 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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