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About the study

My research into the Tupling surname began in the 1970s, focussing on this and its variant Tuplin principally in the county of Lincolnshire. The search became more generalised as it became apparent, particularly from censuses, the extent to which family groups had moved away to other parts of England and Wales. One of the earliest such movements was that of two brothers who settled in Devon in the early 1770s. This also brought other variants to my attention and ultimately led to registration with GOONS of the main ones. Consequently both earlier and ongoing data has been incorporated into a computer based one-name database.

In 1999 contact with a Hampshire based researcher of Taplin led to a collaborative effort to produce a combined database of Taplen-Tupling names, although not all these potential variants are registered with the Guild.

Between us we maintain contact with a number of fellow researchers, and this also includes producing twice yearly a newsletter, which is either emailed (currently free) or posted to interested parties. We request help with the cost of postal charges: a donation in the form of postage stamps.

One of our fellow researchers has created our own website - which is now available through the website address: It is still a work in progress and we do not intend to incorporate the database into the website, whose main purpose is to signpost our 'Taplen-Tupling' study.

Variant names

The variants registered with the Guild of One Name Studies are:

  • Taplin/Tapling
  • Toplin/Topling
  • Tuplin/Tupling

In addition my colleague and I are noting other likely variants such as Taplen, or more archaic forms such as Tupleyne. We have also incorporated some data on Tiplin/Tipling to cover the spread of T*pl*n. There is a question as to whether all these names are indeed variants, or merely similar names. As will be seen below, there is a range of possible origins of the registered surname and its supposed variants.

Name origin

The most authoritative dictionaries of surnames do not currently list Tuplin(g). The first part of the name: tup- derives from a Danish or Anglo-Saxon word for 'ram'. Lin could then be the diminutive giving us 'little ram'. This may be a nickname but it has also been suggested its derivation could be occupational. The men who maintained the earthen banks of early flood defences on the east coast of England were known as 'tuppers'.

A further possibility is its derivation from the name Tope, a man mentioned in Domesday as a landholder prior to the Norman Conquest. 'Tope-lin' could have been a name given to a son, or other relative, or indeed a servant, of Tope.

The variant Taplin(g) could originate from a change in pronunciation as a bearer of the name removed to southern counties of England. There is at least one documented occurrence of this in the 19th century. However Taplin could be a completely separate surname as a frequency distribution may well indicate.

History of the name

Possibly the best known bearer of the name Tapling (formerly Tupling) is Thomas Keay Tapling (1855-1891) whose world famous and priceless collection of stamps is on display at the British Library in London. He was the son of a Lincolnshire born businessman who made a fortune in London from the manufacture of carpets. His younger sister Florence married Baron Cottesloe. The Cottesloe Theatre at the National Theatre in London is named after Florence's late son. A biography of Thomas Tapling senior is to be published towards the end of 2010 and will be available by contacting Anne Astling through the address at the end of this Profile. Price 5 pounds sterling (plus p&p).

A well-known living bearer of the name Tupling is Peter Tupling the golfer.

Name frequency

The surname is unusual nationally, though not rare. In the counties Hampshire and Lincolnshire, Taplin and Tuplin respectively, it could be described as relatively common.

Distribution of the name

The forms Tuplin(g) are associated with northern counties of England; a distribution map based on telephone directory entries conducted in 1998 shows it is found mainly in Lincolnshire, with the neighbouring counties of Nottinghamshire and East Yorkshire also showing a higher than average frequency.

Similarly Taplin is found most commonly in southern English counties, with Hampshire having the highest frequency. Tapling is faily uncommon, and again normally is found in southern England.

The above names are the most common forms; they are found in early parish registers in both northern and southern areas of the country. The very earliest record of (the archaic form of) Tuplin so far is in the 1334 lay subsidy in a village in Lincolnshire.

Toplin(g) is found mainly pre 1900, generally in the north of England, mostly north of the river Humber. It is the least common of the three main registered variants.

Few occurrences have been found in the British Isles outside England prior to the 19th century - however the name is found abroad particularly in North America (USA and Canada), Australia and New Zealand and in South Africa certainly as early as the 1830s, with some evidence of emigration earlier than that.


The most systematic collection of national data is from the registration of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales from 1837 to 1983. There is also national information related to the 1841 to 1901 censuses, wills index from 1858, names from the Debt of Honour register of WW1 dead and from medal recipients in the same war.

Internationally, there is a limited amount of information for North America and Australia and New Zealand now on the database, relating mainly to the Tuplin/Tupling variant.

For the UK, there is a good general coverage of a range of sources for Lincolnshire and Hampshire from at least the 16th century.

Members of the one-name study group have contributed varying amounts of data from their specific family searches covering a number of English counties. Particular studies have been made of Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Devon, Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire, and we expect to have the results of a similar study of Taplin in Oxfordshire in the near future.


The Tupling Surname Y DNA project was started in June 2007. The aim of the project is to confirm existing family history research, and to test to what extent different groups and particularly family groups with variant spellings are genetically connected. So as well as the Tupling spelling which is the one used for registering the project with the testing company, we are investigating all the Taplen-Tupling variants registered with the Guild, and that we have come across in the course of our research.

We already have the results of over 20 tests, from which there are two clusters of good-perfect matches (indicating a common mutual ancestor for each of a Taplin group and a Tuplin/g group, dating back to the 18th century). The non-matching results show that there are also potentially a number of other groups with a similar surname.

If you are interested in being part of this project, please get in touch.