Surnames were introduced into England in the eleventh century by some of the more prominent Normans, but usually inherited only by the eldest sons. The custom of applying a man’s name to all his children developed slowly, at first only among the upper classes, and it was not until about 1450 that hereditary surnames were in universal use in England. The subsequent spelling of a surname was often determined by its spelling in the early parish registers. The Tapson surname, meaning son of Tapp, is said to be derived from an Old English first name Tasppa. Although the name Tasppa has not survived in the written records and is of unknown meaning, it is considered to have given rise to the first element in place-names such as Taplow (Buckinghamshire), Tapners and Tappington (Kent), and Tapton (Derbyshire). The use of Tapp as a surname occurs as early as 1194, when John and Roger Tappe were mentioned in the Dorset Pipe Rolls.* In Devonshire, Tapp was fairly common as a surname, certainly by the sixteenth century, though in the north rather than in the south-west of the county where the Tapsons were to be found. The name Tapp also forms the first element of other surnames such as Tapscott and Tapping, the latter also meaning son of Tapp.