This is a North country and specifically Yorkshire, locational name which derives either from the village, now called "Topeclive", or from some place known as "Toppa's laes", with "laes" being a pasture. It is probable that "Topcliffe" itself is a dialectal transposition of what was probably in Anglo-Saxon times "Toppa's laes", as there are no apparent "cliffs" at Topcliffe. The name in a variety of spellings is now found in relatively small numbers throughout the U.K., suggesting that the original nameholders were the victims of an agricultural clearance in the 14th to the 16th Centuries. These former inhabitants would have been identified by their place of birth, and the spelling "adjusted" in line with local dialects. The name recordings include the following examples: Valentine Topliff, christened at Rothwell, near Leeds, on January 1st 1544, in the reign of Henry V111 (1510 - 1548); Thomas Toplyse, a witness at Pontefract Church, on January 1st 1611, whilst Margareta Toplis married Guielmus Ferebie, at Hinderwell, Yorkshire, on November 7th 1614. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan de Topclyf, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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