Tapper Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Tapper Meaning
The Tapper surname could be English, German, Jewish, Swedish or Finnish.  There were two different origins for the name. 
English Version.  The English origin comes from the Old English word taeppere, meaning “to draw off.”  To draw off in this case would refer to wine or beer and a tapper in English would be the name for a tavern keeper or wine merchant.  John le Tapper, recorded in the 1279 Cambridgeshire rolls, was an early example of this as an occupational name.
The German Tapper probably had the same origin as the English and the Jewish Tapper may well have followed the German example.
Swedish Version.  Sweden and Finland also had Tappers.  The name here meant “brave” or “courageous” and started out as a soldier name.  Sweden and Finland used the same soldier naming system.
When a soldier was enrolled he was given a special “soldier name” by the captain of the company.  In each company the soldiers had to have a unique last name. This meant that many soldiers in a regiment over a period of time could have used the same name.  When a soldier retired he normally took back his patronymic name.  But it also was not unusual for discharged soldiers to keep their soldier name, especially during the 19th century..

Select Tapper Resources on The Internet

Tapper Ancestry

numbers some 1,200 Tappers, Germany around 1,000:

  • the
    Swedish name is spread around the
  • the
    German name localized to Weser Ems, in an area called
    Ostfriesland along the North Sea coastline.  

Heits Tapper of Berumbur there adopted
the Tapper surname in 1811 because he had been licensed to sell beer.  Jewish Tappers, however, may have originated
from Yiddish communities in Poland or the old Russian empire.

.  The largest number of Tappers
has been in
Devon and the surname probably originated there.

Devon.  The Tapper name first appeared
in land
records in Devon in the 1500’s.  Oliver
Tapper and his son of the same name were Exeter merchants in the late
and early 1600’s.  Oliver sr. was an
alderman of the town in 1603, Oliver jr. in 1638.  Samuel
Tapper of the next generation was a nonconformist
clergyman at Limpston near Exeter where he died in 1709.

Other Devon families

  • with:the
    marriage of Joseph Tapper and Isatt Mann in Bovey Tracey in 1660
    (Tappers there probably dated from a hundred years earlier)
  • the
    marriage of
    Richard Tapper and Jane Skinner in Chudleigh in 1729
  • and
    the marriage of Richard
    Tapper and Elizabeth Heath in Totnes in 1747.

Tapper left Tapper’s Gift to the poor of
Bovey Tracey in his will of 1813.  And
the architect Walter Tapper, the son of a local builder, was born in
village in 1861.

. The Tapper name extended from Devon into
Dorset and Wiltshire.

One family in the
Dorset village of Shroton (or Iverne Courtney) can be traced to the
century and even possibly to the 14th century as there was a Tappehare
then in the medieval lay subsidy rolls of that parish.
Tapper was married there in 1634.  He was
one of the Dorset clubmen who sought to defy Cromwell at the time of
the Civil
War.  Later Tappers were farmers.

America.  England was not the primary
origin for the
Tappers in America.  Shipping data
suggests that only 20% or so of the Tapper arrivals were from England,
30% from Sweden and around 50% from Germany (which may also have
some Jewish

Christian Tapper and his wife Maria came to Pennsylvania from Germany
1748.  They settled in Germany township,
Adams county.  Curiously descendants
spelt their name either Dapper or Topper.
Thomas Tapper, born in 1823 and the son of German
immigrants in Germantown, was a colonel on the Union side during the
War.  Afterwards h
e worked as an engineer at the Philadelphia Post
Office until his death in 1885.

Tappers from Germany made their home in Iowa in
the 1890’s.  Harm and Antje Tapper set up
their farm southeast of Webster
City in
Independence township.

EnglishTwo 19th century English
pioneers to the
American backwoods were:

  • James
    Tapper, who was born in Dorset in 1810, came to
    Iowa in 1841 in a circuitous route that took in Newfoundland, Nova
    Scotia, New
    York and Cuba over a period that lasted more than a decade.  He ended up as a farmer in Clayton county.
  • while
    his younger brother John,  who was born
    ten years later, fought in the Mexican war and stayed for a while with
    brother in Clayton county.   He later
    a pioneer settler in what is now Minneapolis, building the first house
    and operating the ferry that traversed the Mississippi between Nicollet
    and the west bank.
those early years Captain Tapper was known by and
knew nearly all the settlers within a radius of a hundred miles of

Swedish.  Tappers
here headed for northern Midwestern states such as
Minnesota.  In the 1850’s Otto and
Johanna Tapper made their home in Carver county where they farmed.  Things went well for a while, but then
tragedy struck.  Otto was killed in 1882
when a team of runaway horses threw him down a steep slope.  He died instantly. Twenty
years later their son Andrew Tapper
became the first and last person to be hanged in Carver county after
murderous assault on a work colleague.

Some Devon seafarers settled in Newfoundland.  Their
numbers included Charles Tapper who may
have come to Torbay as early as the 1760’s.
There is a small cove on the north side of Torbay where he
settled and became
known as Tapper’s Cove.  Some Tappers
moved south to America.  But many have
remained at Torbay.

Australia and New
Zealand.  David Tapper and his wife
Ann were among the first settlers in Freemantle, Western Australia.  They arrived on the Rockingham
in 1830 and suffered great hardship before the little
colony began to thrive.  The Tapper
homestead was located on Bibra Lake.

One son John became a lighter-boat captain
out of Fremantle and later went into whaling.
In 1867 he was presented with a testimonial from the people of
Fremantle for his prompt action on his whaleboat in saving lives during
a storm.  He died in 1882 when his ship Ruby sank in a cyclone off the coast of
Western Australia.

Tapper, origin in England uncertain, ran
away to sea in 1798 at the age of sixteen.
He later joined the British army.
He left London for Australia with his family in 1832 and they
moved to
Kororareka on the Bay of Islands in NI, New Zealand five years later.  He fought in the Maori War of 1844 and was
badly wounded defending the flagstaff.
He died in 1852

Tapper Names

  • Sir Walter Tapper was an English architect of
    the early 20th century known for his church buildings in the Gothic revival style. 
  • Jake Tapper is the chief Washington correspondent for CNN.  He is Jewish from Philadelphia on his father’s side.

Select Tapper Numbers Today

  • 1,300 in the UK (most numerous
    in Devon)
  • 1,000 in America (most numerous in Florida)
  • 1,500 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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