This rare and unusual surname is of early medieval English origin, and is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to occupation, or to a variety of qualities, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, including supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress. In this instance the surname was a nickname for an unfortunate person who was crippled, deriving from the Middle English "cripel, crepel, crupel", cripple. The spelling may have been consciously altered to the form of a habitational name to avoid unpleasant associations. The surname was first recorded in Scotland at the end of the 16th Century (see below), and Ellen Crippill was recorded in Aberdeen in 1517. The earliest known bearer of the name in England was Thomas Crepel, who was born at Clifton, Nottinghamshire, in 1575; his son, Richard Criple or Cripwell, was born at Bunney, Nottinghamshire, in 1602. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Katherine Cripple, which was dated 1574, in the "Records of Dunkeld", Scotland, during the reign of King James V of Scotland, 1513 - 1542. 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.