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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


Topliff is one of the many new names that came to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Topliff family 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.

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The surname Topliff was first found in 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.

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Topley, Topler, Topliffe, Topcliff, Topclive, Toppley, Topleif, Toplief, Toplis and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Topliff research. Another 363 words (26 lines of text) covering the years 1391, 1832, 1834, 1451, 1740 and 1778 are included under the topic Early Topliff History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 35 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Topliff Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Topliff name or one of its variants:

Topliff Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Clement Topliff, who arrived in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1637

Topliff Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • J. Topliff settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1822 and later moved to Charlestown Massachusetts

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  • E. M. Topliff, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from New Hampshire, 1868


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  8. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
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  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Topliff Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Topliff Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 9 March 2016 at 12:50.

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