Recorded as Tarpley, Tarplee, Tarpey, Taupy, Torpie, Turpie and no doubt others, this is an English surname. It is a short or slang spelling and pronunciation of Tarporley, a village in the county of Cheshire. Taporley is first recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as Torpelei, and in the Chartulary of the Abbey of St. Werburgh in Chester in 1293 as Torperley. The derivation is from three pre 7th century words torr, meaning a rocky hill, peru, a pear, and leah, a grove, to give a meaning of the pear grove by a high rock. This would seem to be correct as Torporley stands by a prominent hill. During the Middle Ages people left their original villages in increasing numbers. In so doing they took or were given as their surname, the name of their orginal village. Spelling being at best erratic, and local dialects very thick, lead to the creation of "sounds like" spellings. In this case examples of recordings include John Tarplee christened at the famous church of St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, on November 4th 1653, whilst John Tarpey was christened at St Giles Cripplegate in the city of London, on June 27th 1647. The earliest recording may be that of Ellin Tarpley, who married Ralph Lowick, on May 8th 1586, St. Michael's Bassishaw, also city of London. 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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