This interesting surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin, is either a topographical name for someone who lived near an aspen tree, or a nickname for a timorous person, deriving from the Middle English "apse" (Olde English "oeps", "oespe"), meaning "aspen". Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The surname dates back to the early 13th Century (see below), and further early recordings include: Robert atte Hepse, in the 1296 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, and Thomas atte Apse, in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Somerset. Variations in the idiom of the spelling include Aps, Asp, Epps, Happs and Hesp. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the christening of Michael, son of Roger and Sara Apps, on December 17th 1665, at St. Dunstan, Stepney; the christening of Ralph, son of Roger and Sara Apps, on February 13th 1667, also at St. Dunstan, Stepney; and the christening of Thomas, son of Bedwine and Hannah Apps, on November 2nd 1694, at St. James' Clerkenwell. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Apse, which was dated 1214, in the "Kings Rolls of Surrey", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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.