Norman Conquest of England in 1066 brought much change to the island nation, including many immigrants with new names. Among these immigrants were the ancestors of the Topcliff family, who lived in Yorkshire. The name is derived from a combination of the Old English personal name Topp, and the word leah, meaning wood or clearing, and indicates that the original bearer lived near a wood or clearing owned by someone named Topp.
Early Origins of the Topcliff family
Yorkshire where they are conjecturally descended from a junior branch of the Percys. Topcliff or Topclive was granted to a Norman Baron named William Percy who later became the Earl of Northumberland and one of the most senior mighty nobles of the land. At the time of the Conquest, Topcliff consisted of a church and a mill on the side of the banks of the River Swale.
Early History of the Topcliff family
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Topcliff Spelling Variations
spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Topley, Topler, Topliffe, Topcliff, Topclive, Toppley, Topleif, Toplief, Toplis and many more.
Early Notables of the Topcliff family (pre 1700)
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Migration of the Topcliff family to the New World and Oceana
Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Topcliff or a variant listed above: William Topleife who settled in Barbados in 1635; Henry Topley arrived in Philadelphia in 1866; Thomas Topley arrived in Philadelphia in 1867; J. Topliff settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1822.
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