This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is topographical for a "dweller on a Steep ridge of land". The name is derived from the Old English pre 7th Century "steap", steep and the Old English "hoh", heel, ridge of land, cliff, precipice. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names. The surname is found only in the south of England, with Berkshire and Hampshire having the earliest recordings; these date back to the 16th Century, while the name is not recorded in Gloucestershire, Suffolk, Sussex, Surrey and Wiltshire until the 17th Century.It is possible that the name is locational from a now "lost" place thought to have been in Berkshire, derived from the same elements as before. The modern surname can be found as Steptoe, Stepto and Steptow(e). Among the recordings in Berkshire are the marriages of Giles Steptoe and Mary Clintch on May 20th 1669 at Shaw Cum Donnington, and of Thomas Steptoe and Amie Spokes on May 8th 1698 at Wantage. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johes Stepto, which was dated August 14th 1575, at Chieveley, Berkshire, 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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