Recorded in many forms including Seif, Seifman, Sife, Seefus, Seifenmacher, (German and Askenasic), Soaper, Soper and Sopper (English), Savon (French), Saparano (Italian), and Szappanos (Hungarian), this is an occupational surname. However spelt it is said to originate from the Celtic word of pre Christian times "sape" meaning soap, and to describe a person who manufactured soap by boiling oil or fat together with potash or soda. Quite why the Celts should have had such a hold on the market as to impose their spelling on Europe is unclear, but it suggests that the historical implication that everybody in Britain was an unwashed savage before the Romans came, was and is, far from the truth. The following examples illustrate the surname development in England and Germany from the earliest times. These include William le Sopere in London, in the year 1195, Roger Sapere in the Assize Rolls of Durham in 1243 and Wilhelm Siff in in Fishen, Germany, in 1451, whilst Marin Zefmacher is recorded in Bistritz, in 1521.. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is believed to be that of Edgar le Soppier. This was dated 1138 in Ekwall's Early London Personal Names, during the reign of King Stephen of England, known as the count of Blois, 1135-1154. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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