This surname of GAPP is of two fold origin. It was a nickname for someone whose mouth hung open perpetually, and the name was originally derived from the Old English word GAPA. It was also a topographic name for someone who lived by a gap in a chain of hills. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. Hereditary surnames were originally imported from France into England during the Norman Conquest of 1066. In the two centuries or so after the Conquest surnames were acquired by most families of major landholders, and many landed families of lesser importance. There appears to have been a constant trickle of migration into Britain between about the years 1200 and 150O, mostly from France and the Low Countries, with a small number of migrants from Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and the Iberian peninsular, and occasional individuals from further afield. During this period groups of aliens settled in this country as for example, the Germans who from the late 15th century onwards settled in Cumbria to work the metal mines. Immigration during this time had only a small effect on the body of surnames used in Britain. In many cases, the surnames of immigrants were thoroughly Anglicised. The late sixteenth century saw the arrival, mostly in London and the south-coast ports of large numbers of people fleeing from the war regions of France. The name is also spelt GAPPE, GAPPER and GAPE. The earliest of the name on record appears to be William GAPE, who was recorded in 1243 in County Somerset. William atte GAPP was documented during the time of Edward III (1327-1377) and Alan ATTE-GAP was the rector of Haylesdon, County Norfolk in 1335. A later instance of the name mentions Thomas, son of William GAPE, who was baptised at St. Antholin, London in the year 1716.
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