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About the study

The aim of the APPS One-Name Study is to collect family history data on the names APPS, APSE, APS, ASP, HAPPS and EPPS.

The study started in 1998 with my own APPS family tree and soon developed into a full One-Name study using the data and information being gathered.

The names were registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies in 2009.

The objectives are:

  • Collect data about past and present holders of the names APPS and EPPS and their variants.
  • Identify and document family trees.
  • Make data available to others researching their APPS and EPPS ancestry.
  • Analyse accumulated data to establish links and origins of the names.

Variant names

The main variants of APPS are APSE, APS and HAPPS but regional dialect and accents have caused the spelling of the written name to vary over the centuries and other variants and spellings such as ASP, APPSE, APPES, APES and APPCE are to be found.

The name EPPS has similar variants such as EPSE and EPPES etc. The spoken names APPS and EPPS sound very alike and have existed side by side for centuries sometimes with the spelling switching from one form to the other especially when somebody with the name has moved to a different area where the name is unfamiliar. 


I have excluded ABBS and EBBS which, although are likely to originally have been variants of APPS and EPPS, have been distinctly separate names for many centuries.

Name origin

According to various works on the subject of surnames and their origins the names APPS and EPPS are said to be derived from the Old English word 'aepse' meaning aspen. The Oxford Dictionary of Surnames quotes two early examples of the name from the Sussex Subsidy Rolls, Robert atte Hepse 1296 and Robert atte Apse 1327, and gives the meaning of the name as 'Dweller by the Aspen'. An aspen tree is a type of poplar. White Poplar grows in the Romney Marsh area of Kent notably in a fairly narrow west to east swathe between Snargate and New Romney particularly along footpaths and green lanes. White Poplar readily reproduces itself from suckers and has probably grown in this area for centuries.

APPS and EPPS could therefore be a topographical names. I have established that the names certainly originate from this part of the south east of England and are still particularly prolific in KENT and Sussex.

The spoken names APPS and EPPS sound alike and it is very likely that the two names have the same locative origin making EPPS a variant of APPS and vice versa. EPPS also originates from the south east of England and the name occurs most frequently in the east of the county of Kent.

The website Ancestry suggests that EPPS may also be derived from the Old English personal name Eoppa or the Danish name Opi or even that it has Dutch origins as a habitational name for somebody from a place called Epse, ie. van Epps. Cloth making was a large scale industry in the weald of Kent and Sussex in medieval times. Wool from the sheep of Romney Marsh and immigrant Flemish weavers support this theory of the origin of the name.

Lou Poole in his 'Study of the Epes Family of Virginia' ( refers to an interesting theory that the surname EPPES is of baptismal origin meaning 'the son of Ebb', Ebb apparently being a popular nickname for Isabella at that time. This study also quotes extensively from a three-volume publication by Dorman (1992, 1994, 2004), ''Ancestors and Descendants of Francis Epes I of Virginia'', which contains interesting data on early EPPS and APPS families from Kent and Sussex and especially that of Francis Epes who emigrated to Virginia in the early 1600's.

Whatever the origins of the name, and there are likely to be more than one, the names APPS and EPPS certainly come from Sussex and Kent.  

Today there are three known place names in England with the name APPS. Perhaps poplar trees once grew there in abundance.

  1. Apse Heath is a hamlet on the Isle of Wight but there is no evidence of an Apps family originating from the Isle of Wight.
  2. Apps Court Farm in Surrey is situated between Waltham-on-Thames and West Molesey, not far from Hampton Court. Apps Court was a manor house built originally in 1332 and there was apparently a village named Apps nearby. See .The house was demolished in 1899 and Apps Court Farm is now a center for various outdoor leisure activities. There have been APPS families living in this part of Surrey since the late 18th century although, so far as I am currently aware, there is no evidence that the surname originates from this area.
  3. There is also a hamlet called Apps in the parish of Littleham, near Bridport, North Devon. The once well known Apps Brewery was situated here and brewed its famous Apps Ales using water from a local spring from 1850 to 1900 when it was purchased by a larger concern. However there is no evidence of any Apps family ever having lived in Littleham or the surrounding area of North Devon.

Historical occurrences of the name

I have accumulated a considerable database of APPS families and individuals with various occupations and differing trades and professions. In Kent and East Sussex they tended, in the main, to be farmers and agricultural workers. In West Sussex however they were more likely to be tradesmen such as carpenters, wheelwrights and cordwainers. I found there were several generations of one APPS family from West Sussex who were umbrella and parasol makers in Chichester and Portsmouth. One branch moved to London and were umbrella makers there for at least 200 years. In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries many Sussex and East London APPS were shipwrights and mariners and some settled at various ports of call around the coast of England starting groups of APPS families in other parts of England, particularly in  Cornwall and the Sunderland area of North East England and also Liverpool. Many generations of a branch of APPS families in Rye, Sussex were clay tobacco pipe makers.
I have come across APPS individuals who were successful barristers and solicitors, scientific instrument makers and who were high ranking officers in the Royal Navy including two admirals.
I have come across one murderer, a Richard Apps killed the vicar of Iping, near Midhurst, West Sussex in 1757 by 'running him through with a pitchfork', he was hanged at Horsham gaol. Then, amongst the seafaring Apps, there was 'Pye' Apps, 'Pye' must be a nickname, from the Rye and Hastings area who was tried for smuggling and piracy in 1789 but managed to avoid execution, unlike the rest of the gang he was involved with. I have still to positively identify him.

Name frequency

The name APPS occurs with moderately high frequency. However, from personal experience I find that even within the UK the name is relatively unknown and unfamiliar away from the south east of England.

ONS statistics for England and Wales in 2002 show that there were 2206 people with the APPS name and that it ranked 3379 in popularity. In comparison there were 1082 people with the EPPS name and that name ranked 6241 in popularity.

There are now well established APPS families in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States and contact with  other APPS researchers in these and other countries where there are APPS families would be welcomed. Please contact me also should you need any assistance in tracing your English APPS ancestors.

Distribution of the name

 As I have shown above, the name APPS originates from the south east of England. A study of the 16th, 17th and 18th parish records from the East Sussex and Kent border area shows the name to have been most concentrated in the parish of Wadhurst, Sussex which borders with the county of Kent.

In the 17th and 18th Centuries there were also established groups of APPS families in West Sussex and Cornwall.

An analysis of the 19th century censuses for England and Wales shows how the name APPS is beginning to become distributed throughout the country. Variants have been ignored in this analysis.

1841: Total APPS 772. Kent 334, E and W Sussex 228, Middlesex and London 64, Surrey 61, Hampshire 22, Cornwall 32, Somerset 18. 73% live in Kent and Sussex.

1861: Total APPS 951. Kent 375, E and W Sussex 261, Middlesex and London 71, Surrey 119, Hampshire 33, Cornwall 40, Somerset 14, Warwickshire 9. 67% live in Kent and Sussex.

1881: Total APPS 1343. Kent 498, E and W Sussex 332, Middlesex and London 117, Surrey 186, Hampshire 66, Cornwall 37, Somerset 13, Warwickshire 20, Devon 14, Co Durham 12. 62% live in Kent and Sussex.

1901: Total APPS 1717. Kent 594, E and W Sussex 299, Middlesex and London 336, Surrey 172, Hampshire 109, Cornwall 19, Somerset 14, Warks and Worcs 30, Devon 21, Co. Durham 15. 52% live in Kent and Sussex.

1911: Total APPS 1931. Kent 666, E and W Sussex 321, Middlesex and London 390, Surrey 185, Hampshire 112, Cornwall 13, Somerset 12 Warks and Worcs 34, Devon 30, Co. Durham 17. 51% live in Kent and Sussex.

Distribution of Apps in England and Walles 1881Distribution Colour CodeDistribution Colour CodeDistribution of Epps in England and Wales 1881Distribution Colour Code

The Distribution of APPS and EPPS surnames on England and Wales in 1881 is clearly shown in the above maps reproduced from Archer Software's British 19th Century Surname Atlas CD showing actual numbers of individuals per poor law union, or registration district. Both APPS and EPPS surnames are dominant in South East England and the name APPS has already become well established in West Sussex, Surrey, Greater London, Hampshire, Cornwall, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, Somerset and Devon, and County Durham. EPPS however has spread very little and is still predominantly a Kent surname.

Each group of APPS and EPPS, as it is identified, is being researched in detail and wherever possible traced back to its East Sussex or Kent roots.

APPS and EPPS individuals and families have emigrated to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. Some Apps were transported to Australia as convicts and stayed and some seafaring APPS settled there. There is a branch of my Horley, Surrey APPS tree in Canada which started in 1912 in Manitoba.

An important part of the research is to gather and collate information on APPS and EPPS branches in countries other than England and trace their origins back to Sussex or Kent. I welcome the opportunity to share information with researchers in other countries. 


Data collection of all APPS and EPPS marriages in England between 1837 and 1911 is well advanced. I am also accumulating details of UK APPS and EPPS marriages that took place between 1912 and 1941.

Family Trees.

The headings given the APPS trees indicate the area where the families were living for several generations before perhaps moving away in more recent times and wherever possible also show their Kent or Sussex origin.

                                APPS Families.

Ashford, Kent:

Starting with Robert Apps/Epps (1733-1810) of Eastwell, Kent who married Susan Attwood at Eastwell in 1757.

Birmingham and Warwickshire:

1. Starting with brothers Charles Apps (1836-1885) and Thomas William Apps (1832-1863) both born in Westminster, London and sons of William Apps born Maidstone, Kent 1810.

2. Starting with Edward Apps  (1825-1883) an artist living in Leamington Spa who was the son of James Apps (1798-1863) born Maidstone, Kent and an art dealer from Westminster, London.

3. Starting with Charles Apps (1888-1964) of Selly Oak, Worcestershire whose Walworth, London origins I have frustratingly been unable to establish. If any of his descendants are able to help please contact me.

Horley, Surrey; My own Tree:

  1. Starting with Joseph Apse b. 1688 in Wadhurst, Sussex who lived in Rotherfield, Sussex and was landlord of the Kings Arms there. His son James Apps (1724-?) married Eleanor Byfield, of Rotherfield, at Tonbridge, Kent. Widow Eleanor Apps and sons James (1762-1803) and Amos (1768-1834), both born in Speldhurst Parish, Kent, moved to the Copthorne/Burstow area of Surrey. I am descended from Amos Apps and Elizabeth Illman who married at Worth, Sussex in 1799.
  2. Starting with William Apps (1795-1865) who married Philadelphia Denman in 1822 at Worth, Sussex. I believe William was the first son of James Apps (above) and Sarah Constable who married at Burstow in 1793.


Somerset, South Devon, Glamorgan and Barnsley:

Starting with Thomas Apse (1755-1834) of Elworthy, Somerset. This APPS group has a variety of surname variants Apse, Apsee, Apps Appsee and Happs. The name APSEE or APSEY occurs frequently in Somerset and requires more research. The line splits into two branches with Thomas's sons John Apps (1790-1875) of Brompton Ralph, Somerset and Isaac Apps (1804-1881) of Stogumber, Somerset. These Apps families spread into South Devon or Goucestershire and some to the coal mining areas of Glamorganshire and Barnsley, Yorkshire.

Tunbridge Wells, Kent:

Starting with Edward Apps (1722- ) of Brenchley, Kent who married Mary Hickmott at Horsmonden, Kent in 1774. This group lived mainly in Brenchley and Horsmonden and later generations branched out to Tunbridge Wells.

Wadhurst, Sussex:

There were, and are, many APPS families in the area of Goudhurst, Kent and Lamberhurst and Wadhurst, Sussex. My own Horley tree stems from a Wadhurst family. This particular Wadhurst tree starts with William Apps born Wadhurst in 1715 who was a mason and who married Elizabeth Brissenden at Wadhurst, and in the main, follows a James Apps (1805- ), who married Eliza Wickens at Wadhurst in 1833, and traces the subsequent Thorpe Apps line.

West Sussex and Hampshire:

There were APPS families living in Arundel and Eastergate, Sussex in the 16th Century and a Stephen Apps mentions land in Goudhurst in his will of 1568 showing a connection between the APPS of West Sussex and those of East Sussex. I have constructed the following trees:

  1. Starting with Richard Apps, (1570-1638) husbandman of Eastergate and Boxgrove, Sussex. There were several APPS families living in Boxgrove in the 17th and 18th Centuries and one line branched out into Bishops Waltham, Hampshire when John Apps (1721- )  married Sarah Beech at Bishops Waltham, Hampshire in 1746.
  2. Starting with Henry Apps (1745-1823) a boatbuilder of Sidlesham, Sussex.
  3. James Apps (1789-1825) a mariner then shipwright of Bosham and West Itchenor, Sussex.
  4. John Apps (1756-1831) a mariner of West Itchenor, Sussex then Ramsgate Kent.

In the above trees,wherever APPS individuals and families have emigrated I have begun to extend the lines into the countries where they have settled. However more research needs to be done on APPS trees in countries where APPS have emigrated in order to bring this detail up to date. 

I am currently reconstructing further trees for APPS families in Cornwall and Durham, and more in Surrey, Kent and East Sussex. 

     EPPS Families (Researched by my colleague John Apps)

   1. Starting with Alan Epes, (?-1471), who was buried at Brenzett in Romney Marsh, Kent, he and his descendants lived in East Kent for the next 200 years. Most were gentry, and certain members were entitled to a coat of arms. One of their descendants Francis Epes (1597-bef 1674) settled in Virginia about 1625, and was the founder of the colony's most noteworthy families. Martha Wayles-Skelton, his greatx3 granddaughter, married Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), third President of the United States (1801-1809), one of whose daughters, Maria, married John Wayles-Epps, another descendant (Dorman, 1992, 1999). It is not known whether any descendants of Alan Epes presently live in the United Kingdom.

   2. Starting with Daniel Epps, who died in 1630, and who may have been a brother of Francis Epes, cited above. If so he was baptised at Kingsnorth, Kent in 1692. His son Daniel Epes (abt 1623-1693), was brought to Massachusetts by his mother, nee Maria Reade, subsequent to his father's death. A son Daniel Epps III (1649-1722) was a schoolteacher  and lived in Salem, Massachusetts. Descendants are believed to be still living in the New England area of the United States.

   3. Starting with John Epps (?-1546) , a yeoman, who was buried at Elmsted, Kent. He is the earliest known ancestor of a very large number of Epps families living today in England, the United States, Canada and possibly in Australia. A notable descendant is James Epps (1821-1907) who founded Epps's Cocoa and who, upon his death, left a fortune at the time of over £735,000. Several close relatives of his were prominent members of London society during the 19th Century.

4. Starting with William Epps, who married Sarah Parker at St Clements, Sandwich in 1750, some of whose descendants can be traced to the beginning of the 20th Century.

   5. Starting with John Epps (?-1726), who was buried at Littlebourne, Kent, most of whose descendants lived in villages south of Canterbury at least to the beginning of the 20th Century.

   6. Starting with William Epps who married Elizabeth Gibbs at Waltham, Kent in 1795 and whose descendants can be traced through to the 20th Century. They include publicans and wine merchants. Efforts to trace this lineage further back in time have so far proven fruitless.

   7. Starting with John Epps (1806-1882), who was baptized in Canterbury the son of Janes Epps and Mary and was buried at Margate. His descendants lived in the Faversham and Medway area during the latter part of the 19th Century.

   8. Starting with William Epps (abt1819-1893) who was buried at Faversham, Kent where many of his descendants also lived.


Family History and DNA

DNA testing for genealogy, known as genetic genealogy, is the latest technology available and a very powerful tool for use with family history research. The advantage of such testing is that you can discover information not in the paper records, which will ensure the accuracy of your family tree. By testing males with the surnames of interest, such as Apps or Epps, you can determine whether males are related, and approximately when their common ancestor lived. This information is extremely valuable in making accurate connections in your family history research.

The genealogical Y-DNA test is for males and is harmless. Males have an X and a Y chromosome, making them male, whereas females have two X chromosomes. The Y chromosome is passed from father to son, typically unchanged. The test result contains no personal information and is a string of 37 numbers, which represent the count of short repeats of DNA located on the Y chromosome at 37 specific locations. An example is shown here:

13 24 16 11 12-15 11 12 11 13 11 30 17 8 9 11 11 24 15 20 32 12 12 14 15 10 10 21 21 17 13 18 18 35 37 11 10

Males who match and share the surname Apps, Epps or variants are related in a genealogical time frame.

The Y-DNA result tells you about the direct male line, which is the man, his father, his father’s father, and so on back in time. You can compare the results for two men and determine if they have a common ancestor. This Y-DNA test is especially helpful to sort out all the different family trees to ensure that the genealogical research is correct.

The evolution of surnames varied depending on the country. The major period of surname formation and adoption in England was 1250-1450. The process occurred first in the major population centres and the south and moved gradually north and to rural areas. Over time the surnames evolved to different forms. During this period, which is not covered by written records, variant forms of surname arose, so we may find Abbs or Ebbs matching Apps or Epps, for example. The majority of the population was illiterate, and their surname was only spoken, and when written down by another person, such as the clergy recording a baptism, spelling variations were to be expected. Migrations also had an impact on the recording of surnames due to regional differences in pronunciation.

The objective of our Y-DNA research is to test each Apps and Epps family tree, determine which trees are related, and hopefully eventually discover whether there is a common origin for each group of related trees. Most documented family trees go back only to the 1800’s or 1700’s. DNA testing will take you back to the origin of the surname hundreds of years earlier. Of course, it is rarely feasible to make a documented connection as far back as the information provided by the DNA result. Even so, groups of family trees that match will help our research into the origins of the surname and can be used to bridge continents and make a connection to the ancestral country, such as, for example, the situation where a branch of a family tree grew out of migrants where no documents exist to specify their origin. Even those that have documented their family tree back centuries will benefit from DNA testing, by finding other documented family trees to which they relate, indicating they share a common origin.

In England, the surnames Apps or Epps and their variants probably originated 750 years ago in the Romney Marsh area of Kent. Comprehensive studies of the entire Y chromosome of a few Apps and Epps individuals have shown that a man living several thousand years ago in the Netherlands or western Germany founded their line. In Europe, however, theses names and their variants may have arisen at multiple locations at different times, so there are likely multiple different genetic results in the Apps and Epps populations around the world. The Apps/Epps names found in England may have originated in Western Europe, but research regarding the origins of theses surnames is still preliminary.

If you are male with any of these surnames listed above, or know a male in your family tree with one of these surnames, and are interested in helping to further this research, please contact John Apps at or Andrew Apps at for further information. Family Tree DNA carries out Y-DNA testing. The first one or two participants of an Apps or Epps family tree may qualify for a sponsored (paid) test kit, i.e., the cost of testing will be paid for those males whose trees have not yet been tested or where additional males are needed to verify branches in a family tree. Family Tree DNA of Houston, Texas ( is a company that performs such tests. Again, we emphasise that the test result contains NO personal information.

If you would like more detailed information on the work already done analyzing the Y-DNA test results of those Apps and Epps individuals who have been DNA tested, or suggestions for further reading, do feel free to contact John Apps at