Recorded as Malpas, Malpass, Melpuss and even Morpuss, this is an English surname although derived from French, and even possibly in some cases, with a separate French origin. It is locational, and may be from the town of Malpas in the county of Cheshire, or possibly from the similarily named Maupas in France. The name in all cases has the same translation of "bad passage". This may refer to a very poor road, which is rather unlikely as all roads before the 18th century were more or less "poor", so a more likely explanation is that the name refers to an area where thieves and highwaymen gathered to ambush the unwary traveller.Locational names are usually "from" names. That is to say names given to people as easy identification after they left their original homes, and had moved elsewhere. Spelling being at best erratic and local dialects very thick, lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving rolls and registers of the medieval period include: Henry Malpas in the Curia Regis rolls for the county of Yorkshire in the year 1204, and Walter de Malpas of Worcester, in the Subsidy Tax rolls of 1275.
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