This interesting and unusual name, found chiefly in Cornwall, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational name for a person who manufactured soap, by boiling oil or fat together with potash or soda. The derivation is from the Old English "sape", with the Middle English development 'sope'. It is thought that "sape" is of Celtic origin, which would explain the prevalence of this name in Cornwall. In the modern idiom the variants include, Sooper, Sopper and Soaper, and the following examples illustrate the name development after 1138 (see below): William (le) Sopere (1195), Roger Sapere (1243, Assize Rolls of Durham) and Alexander le Soppere (circa 1260). Among the early recordings in Cornwall is the christening of Thomas Soper on August 16th 1592 at St. Mellion, and the marriage of William Soper and Wilmonde Harringe on November 29th 1595 at Pillaton. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edgar le Soppier, which was dated 1138-1160, Ekwall's "Early London Personal Names", during the reign of King Stephen, known as "Count of Blois", 1135-1154. 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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