This very interesting surname has long proved a puzzle to etymologists. The eminent Victorian Canon Charles Bardsey claimed it to be a Devonian dialectal form of 'Whimple', a village near Exeter, or from a lost site called 'Whiphill'. Other researchers claim that it is a reduced form of 'Whippletree' (an early name for the Dogwood), and implying residence thereby. Chaucer in 'The Canterbury Tales' refers to the 'Whippletree', so this adds further credence to the possibility. Our opinion is that the surname is probably habitational, as shown in the earliest recording below, but that it may be a diminutive form of 'Whipp' (Whipp + 'le' to give Little Whipp or Son of Whipp). Whipp itself is an early metonymic surname for one who carried out judicial punishments! What is certain is that the origin is either Old English pre 7th century, or Anglo-Saxon pre 9th century. Examples of the surname recording showing its long term development include William de Whipulle of Somerset in the rolls of 1274, Samuel Whiple in the register of the church of St Margarets Lothbury, London, on September 21st 1591, whilst Robert Weepel is recorded as marrying Agnis Gosse at Huntsham, Devon, on April 8th 1641. William Whipple, born in Maine, America in 1730, was one of the signatories of the 1776 American Declaration of Independance. His great grandfather is believed to have been amongst the first settlers to New England in 1638. The Coat of Arms has a silver field, a bend between a green eagle displayed in the sinister chief, and two pellets in base The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Wipphulle, which was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of Wiltshire, 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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