Not as may be thought a nickname derived from the fast flying bird, but a Viking locational name originally from Yorkshire, Cumberland and Suffolk and formerly spelt as "Snaep or Snap" - and translating as "one dwelling by the pasture or meadows". There are a number of alternative spellings including Snape, Snipe, Snepp and Snap, whilst the name development has included John atte Snepe (1327, Sussex), Robert de Snape (1355, Yorkshire), whilst two brothers William and Robert Snipe aged 18 and 16 are recorded as emigrating from Liverpool on the 20th April 1847, bound for New York.The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Christopher Snipe (Baptised). which was dated 1678, April 13th at Christchurch, Barbados. during the reign of King Charles 11, known as the Merry Monarch, 1670 - 1685. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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