This intriguing and rare name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from some minor, unrecorded or now "lost" place in Hertfordshire called Ipgrave. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared in Britain since the 13th Century, due to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, and to the widespread effects of the Enclosure Acts and enforced "clearing" of rural lands for sheep pastures from the 14th Century on. The placename is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "yppe", hill, raised place (a derivative of "uppe", up, above), with "graf, graefe, grafe", grove, brushwood, thicket. It is also possible that the first element may be the Olde English personal name "Ippa", of obscure etymology. The surname, in a number of forms, is found almost exclusively in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and in London, as Hipgrave, Ipgrave, Ipsgrave and Epgrave. Other less common variants are Hipgrove, Ephgrave and Iphgrave. Examples from Church Registers include: the marriage of Edward Hipgrave and Angell Challer at St. Andrew's, Enfield, London, on November 7th 1611, and the christening of Thomas, son of Thomas Hipgrave, at Datchworth, Hertfordshire, on August 31st 1628. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Ipgrave, which was dated November 6th 1550, witness at the christening of his daughter, Grace, at Reed, Hertfordshire, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1547 - 1553. 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.