This surname De Lappe was a French occupational name, apparently denoting a cobbler who repaired footwear with rags rather than leather. Leather shoes in the Middle Ages were a luxury and many people either went barefoot or contented themselves with felt leggings which could easily be repaired by scraps of cloth. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected. The name is also spelt Delap, and the associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. The name was anglicized to Lappin when it arrived in England, and O'Laoain in Ireland. They are a Donegal sept now found mainly in Tyrone and Armagh. It is sometimes changed to Delap, which is used as a synonym for the Scottish Dunlop. Early records of the name mention LAPINUS (without surname) who was recorded in Canterbury, during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Thomas de Lappe appears in London in 1379.
Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state.
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