This is a locational surname, which rarely appears in its place of origin at all, and not very often anywhere else except in London. It derives from the village of the same name in Kent. A village which is first recorded in the Domesday Book for Kent in 1086 as 'Upcyrean', but later in 1242 as 'Upchirche', a form which it has more or less retained ever since. The name almost certainly means 'The church on the hill top' but another explanation is 'The higher church' which assumes that a lower one once existed. This type of locational surname developed when residents left their village to seek employment elsewhere, taking as their surname the name of their former home. Literally thousands of surnames developed this way, many surviving whilst the village after which they were named has long since disappeared. Examples of the surname recordings include Tristram Upchurch, (a latinised spelling) who married Alice Smith at St Gabriel Fenchurch, on August 3rd 1572, and William Upchurch who married Alyce Sydecap at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on September 22nd 1586. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jone Upchurche, which was dated July 29th 1565, who married Rycharde Gylle at St Mary Somerset, 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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