This is one of a small band of surnames, of which the origin seems obvious, and yet research indicates this is not the case. Firstly the name as Top, Toop, Topp, Toope and possibly Toppin is found recorded in most parts of England from the 13th century. This usually suggests that the name is locational and derives from a feature of the landscape which may be spelt differently and certainly pronounced differently in the different areas. As Bottom, Bottam and Botham, all of which mean "The base of the valley" are relatively popular locational names, logic suggests that the opposite should also apply, however this may not be the case. "Top(p)" is a Norse-Viking personal name which derives from the pre 7th century Scandanavian "Toppr" although to add to the confusion "Toppr" itself does actually mean "the top". Whether this is locational as in hilltop or a personal nickname for "top dog" or equivalent, is lost in the mists of history. Usually Medieval English locational surnames in their 12th century formulative period are recorded as (for instance) Johannes de le Top, this does not apply in this case, all early recordings suggesting a personal name origin intorduced by, if not the original Vikings, then the Normans, who themselves were orginally 8th century Norsemen, after 1066. The early recordings include Robert Topi of Norfolk in the year 1200, Alan Tupe of Yorkshire in 1202, Robert Top of Somerset in 1273, and Henry Topp, of Devon, but recorded in the Oxford University Register for 1606/7. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aldene Tope, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book for Lincolnshire, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror" 1066 - 1087. 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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