This interesting surname is of English locational origin from one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from the maps in Britain. The prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 14th Century. Natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, also contributed to the lost village phenomenon. The placename is composed of the Old English elements, "Hlappa", an Old English personal name, or "Laeppa" (Old English) meaning tag, end and also a district. The second element "-ham", is the Old English word for a village or homestead but can also mean a flat low-lying meadow on a stream. The earliest recordings of the name are found in Devon in the 16th Century. James Bray married Elizabeth Lapham at North Molton on January 16th 1552. Clement Lapham married one Agnes Nycoll, there also on October 26th 1552. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Lapham married Agnes pere, which was dated February 5th 1549, church register at North Molton, Devonshire, during the reign of King Edward V1, "The Boy King", 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.