Recorded as Waper, Wapper, Wayper, Whoper, and Woper, and possibly associated with the surname Wap, Whap, Whape and their diminutives Wappatt and Wappett, this very interesting and unusual surname seems to be mainly associated with the North East of England. It is not apparently recorded in any of the British dictionaries of surnames, and the best explanation that we can offer is that it derives from the Olde English and Anglo-Saxon pre 7th century word 'wapul' meaning a lake or pool. This is found in a fused form in the surviving village names of Wapley in North Yorkshire and Waplington in East Yorkshire.It is also possible that the surname originates from an early personal name given as being Wapp or Wappa, although these themselves may still mean pool or lake. They are found in the place name of Wappenbury in Warwickshire. Wappa may also explain the later spelling of Wapper and Wayper. Early examples of the surname recordings from the surviving registers of the diocese of County Durham and surrounding areas include: Robert Whap at Bishopwearmouth, on July 1st 1638, Henry Waper at Medomsley, on August 4th 1698, Robert Wappatt at Whorlton, on March 14th 1704, and James Wayper, who married Phoebe Richardson at Wolsingham, on June 5th 1799. Throughout the past seven centuries since surnames were introduced, most have had a continuous life of development, where current spellings may bear little resemblance to original forms.
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