That this is a locational surname, is beyond argument, as indeed is the fact that it originates from a place called 'Stepney'. What is unusual is that 'Stepney' forms a borough within the city of London, and has done since pre 1086 Domesday times, and it was towards London that the early displaced people drifted. Rarely did they move away from London. Locational surnames were usually given as identification to people by their new neighbours, Robin of Sherwood being a popular example. He had this description given to him by the people of Nottingham. The more rare alternative was when a landowner had, as his or sometimes her, surname, that of the lands which they owned. Burkes General Armoury contains a statement that the Stepney family were existing in the time of King Henry V111, and were granted lands by him in Hertfordshire. Unfortunately we have not been able to prove this conclusively, although certainly the name appears in the early church recordings for London. The derivation is from the Olde English personal name 'Stybba' plus 'hyp', the landing place of Stybba, and is recorded in Domesday Book as 'Stibenhede', a Norman clerics 'best try'. Early recordings include Benet Stepney, christened at St Margarets Lothbury, London, on December 21st 1567, and Robert Stepnith, also recorded as Stepney, in the Oxford University register for the year 1600. The coat of arms has the blazon of a red field, a fesse chequy in gold and blue, between three silver owls. The crest is a red talbots head. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Samvell Stepney, which was dated June 21st 1562, christened at St Margarets Lothbury, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. 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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