Surname Name Meaning, Origin, and Etymology
This is an occupational surname meaning “the roper”, a person who made, manufactured, or sold ropes, an important device during medieval times and the Middle Ages, deriving from the Old English word word rap (rope). A second origin theory is that this is a locational name for a person from Rupier, Calvados, Normany, France, where the family resided prior to the Norman Conquest of the eleventh century AD. Another origin theory/meaning is that the ancient Cumberland family named the Ropers lived near a quarry of red spate, from whence they first adopted the surname of Rubra Spatha. One source asserts the name of Roper in Derbyshire changed from Musard to Rubra Spatlia, Rospear, Rouspee, Rooper, Roper. Yet another source states the family descends from William Roper, or Rosper, who lived in the reign of King Henry III of England (reign beginning 1327 AD) and whose descendants were of St. Dunstan's, near Canterbury during the time of Edward III. The family have ever since been connected with Kent. Further, in some instances, it can be a French spelling variant of the name Robert, or in northern Germany, it can be an occupational name for a town crier, deriving from the Middle Low German word ropen, meaning “to call.
The family was seated at Moorhouse in county Durham, England in the 1600s AD. At one point, the family also held a manor of Aston-Upon-Trent in Derbyshire, which was granted to Sir William Paget after the reformation, and later passed to the Roper family.
The book The Norman People states "Roper, or de Rupierre. This family has been supposed to be descended from a member of the house of Musard, who is said to have assumed the name of 'Rospear or De Rubruspatha;' but there is no evidence for the statement...William de Rupierre (who came to England with the Conqueror) is mentioned by Ordericus Vitalis; in 1090 he commanded the forces of Duke Robert. The Counts of Rupierre continued in Normandy till the last century".
Common spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include le Roper, Ropper, Rooper, Roeper, Raper, Rapier, Reepmaeker (Dutch and Flemish), Reef (German), and others. Other surnames for similar professions include Corder, Stringer, and Twyner.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Roper ranks 1,680th in popularity in terms in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following six states: Utah, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Idaho.
The surname Roper frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (890th), Scotland (2,062nd), Wales (757th), Ireland (2,693rd) and Northern Ireland (3,129th).
In England, it ranks highest in county Dorset. In Scotland, the Roper surname ranks highest in popularity/commonness in Kincardsineshire. In Wales, it ranks highest in Flintshire. In Ireland, it ranks highest in county Westmeath. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in county Fernmanagh.
The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (3,445th), New Zealand (805th), Australia (1,686th), and South Africa (3,247th).
Early Bearers of the Surname
The earliest known bearer of this surname was Roger Raper who was documented in the Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire in 1219 AD. Richard le Ropere was listed in the Curia Rolls of Hertfordshire in 1220 AD. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists three bearers of this surname: Peter le Roper (Nottinghamshire), Walter le Ropere (Cambridgeshire), and Gerald Roppere (Suffolk). The Poll Tax of Yorkshire in 1379 AD lists one bearer of this last name: Rogerus Roper. Kirby’s Quest lists one John le Roper in county Somerset living in 1327 AD. A one Thomas le Roper, rector of Eccles, county Norfolk, was recorded in 1347 in the History of Norfolk by Blomefield and Parkin. An early baptism including this surname was Richard, son of William Roper, at St. James Clerkenwell in London, England in 1613. An early marriage involving this surname was William Roper to Margaret More in London, daughter of Sir Thomas More, in 1525 AD.
History, Genealogy, and Ancestry
The famous genealogist Bernard Burke’s book “The Landed Gentry” discusses one branch of this family: Roper of Plas-Teg. It begins with a mention of Charles James Trevor-Roper who was an Esquire from Plas-Teg, county Flint, who was Justice of the Peace, Deputy Liutenant, High Sheriff, and Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Flint Militia who was born in 1823. He married twice: Lucy Anne, daughter of Samuel Aldersley in 1854, and Julia Maria, daughter of C.H. Kortright, Governor of British Guiana, in 1873. Burke traces the Roper genealogy or lineage back to Cadwallader Blaney Roper, second son of Reverend Richard Henry Roper and Mary Tenison, who succeeded the estates of Plas Teg in county Flint, Wales, and Lee, Kent under the hill of his cousin, the Dowager Lady Dacre, in 1808, and assumed by sign manual in 1809, the additional surname and arms of Trevor. He was born in 1765 and first married Elizabeth Anne, daughter of Henry Reveley, and had four issue with her: Charles Blayney, Richard (married Mrian Rigby), Mary Jane (married Leigh Rigby), and Anna Maria (married James Boydell). His second wife was Eliza Agnes, daughter of Reverend Clerk Gayton, and had issue with her: George (married a daughter of Captain McDonald of the Royal Navy), Agnes (married Henry Boydell), and Caroline. He died in 1832 and was succeeded by his son Charles. This son, Charles Blayney Trevor Roper, Esquire of Plas Teg, was Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant, and High Sheriff in 1835. He was born in 1799 and in 1821, he married Mary, only daughter of Samuel Knight, and had ten children with her as follows: Charles James, William (married Rose Myra Kinchant and later Miss Cunningham Luxmoore), Geroge Edward (Rhual Isa Mild, married Harriet Roper), Richard Henry (married Grace Massena), Dacre, Elizabeth Mary (married Captain Pellew Matson Briggs), Anne (married Reverend John Watson), Gertrude (married Lieutenant Colonel Edmund G. Maynard), Charlotte Blanche (married Henry Cecil Raikes), and Emily Constances (married Holland T. Birket, Esquire). He died in 1871 and was succeeded by his son Charles James Trevor Roper, mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph. The Roper Coat of Arms (mistakenly called the Roper Family Crest) was blazoned in heraldry as follows: Quarterly: 1st and 4th, per fess azure and or, a pale and three roebucks' heads erased counterchanged, for Roper; 2nd and 3rd, per bend sinister ermine and ermines a lion rampant or, and for distinction a canton sable, thereon an escallop argent, charged with a cross flory of the fourth, for Trevor. Crests—A lion rampant sable holding in his right paw a ducal coronet or, for Roper. On a chapeau gules turned up ermine a wyvern wings elevated sable, and for distinction on the breasts an escallop charged as in the arms.
Plas Teg circa 1860 when it was owned by Colonel Trevor Roper
credit: State Library of New South Wales
Lieutenant-Colonel George Trevor Roper Cook (d. 1918)
Roper Family Tree
Thomas Roper was born in Swalecliff, Kent, England in 1309 AD. He married Elnith Apledore and had a son with her named Ralph. Ralph was born in St. Dunstan’s, Canterbury in 1331 and married a woman named Beatrice Lewknor with whom he had a son named Edmund. This Edmund was born in the same town in 1360 and married a woman named Catherine with whom he had four issue: Agnes, Edmund, John, and Thomas. His son John was born in Swacliffe, England in 1406 and he married Margery Tattersall, with whom he had a son named John. His son, John Roper, Esquire was born at Eltham & St. Dunstan’s and married Jane Fineux, with whom he had the following issue: Joane (Muttlbury), Agnes, Margaret (Appleton), John, Ann (Mackson), William, Christopher, and Eleanor Helen (Montagu). His son William was born in Kent, England in 1496 and he married Margaret More. They had five children: Elizabeth, Margaret (Dawtrey), Thomas, Anthony, and Mary.
John Roper’s other son Christopher was born in Lynsted, Kent in 1498. He had a son named John. John was born in Teynham in 1534 and he became Sir John Roper. He married Elizabeth Parke and he had a son named Christopher. Christopher Roper was born in Bedmangore Manor in around 561 and he married Katherine Seborne and had three children with her: John, Bridger, and Mary. His son John was the 3rd Baron Teynham who was born in Cornwall, England after 1591. He married Mary Petre and had a son with her named Christopher. This Christopher was the 4th Baron Teynham and was born in Lynsted around 1621. He married Philadelphia Knollys and had a son with her named Christopher. This Christopher Roper was born in the same city around 1650, 5th Baron, and he married Elizabeth Browne, with whom he had three issue: Anne (Howard), Henry, and Winifred (Stonor). His son Henry (the 8th Baron) was born around 1676 in Lynsted Lodge. He married Catherine Clare Smythe and Ann Lennard Moore, who was the father of five children: Philip, Henry, Charles, Richard, and Anna Maria (Tyler). His son Henry Roper (10th Baron of Teynham) was born around 1708. He married Catherine Powell, Ann Brinkhurst, and Elizabeth Newport, and had the following children: Henry, John, Francis, Philip, and Mary Catherine. His son Francis was born in Lynsted in 1738. He married Mary Lyttleton and had a son with her named Philip Henry. This Colonel Philip Henry Roper was born in Teynham, Kent in 1771 and he married Harriet Bannister with whom he had the following issue: Helena Barbara (Dance), Francis, Margaret, Edward Dacre, Emily Catharine, and Augustus. His son Augustus Frederick Roper was born in Middlesex in 1819. He married Lydia Maryanne Henley and had two sons with her: Phillip Henry and Charles Louis. His son Charles Louis was born in England in 1856. He went to Pennsylvania where he married Mary Jane Trayes with whom he had the following children prior to his 1935 death: Charles Jr., Daisy M., Ruby Pearl, Annie M., Clayton Edmound, James B., Myrtle O., Russel Clark, and Carl R.
Sir John Roper, 1st Baron Teynham (d. 1618), memorial at Lynsted church
Henry Roper, 10th Baron Teynham
A one John Roper was born in England in 1645. He went to colonial America (Virginia?) and married Katherine Graces Sprigg. He was the father of two children: John and Mary. His son John was born in New Kent, Virginia in 1660. He married a woman named Susannah and had the following issue: Mary, Anne, Thomas, Rebecca, John, Joseph, James David, Frances, David, and James Ross. His son David Roper was born in Charles City, VA in 1744 and had a son named William. William was born in Charlotte, Virginia in 1775 and he married Frances C. Jackson, with whom he had a son named Henry. This Henry Christopher Roper was born in Jamestown, VA and he married Nancy Walker Lewis, with whom he had two sons: Charles Lewis and James H. His son James H. was born in Trigg County, Kentucky in 1840. He married Cynthia A. Compton and had a daughter with her named Lillie Belle, born in 1875, who married Oliver Martin Lamb in 1894 and had a daughter with him named Flossie Erene (Lamb) Evans.
Early American and New World Settlers
Clement Roper, age 25, came to Virginia aboard the Southampton in 1623.
Thomas Roper was recorded among the dead in Virginia in February 1623.
Hanna Roper, age 23, came to St. Christopher’s aboard the Paul of London in April 1635.
William, son of William and Margaret Roper, was baptized in the parish of St. Michael’s, Barbados in January 1678. Early settlers in colonial America bearing this name include Phillipp Roper (Virginia 1618), John Roper (Dedham 1641), Richard Roper (Maryland 1730), and Catherine Roper (Virginia 1774).
Early Americans Bearing the Roper Family Crest
I researched the following three resources and did not find any coats of arms for Roper: Bolton’s American Armory, Matthew’s American Armoury and Bluebook, and Crozier’s General Armory.
We have identified two Roper family mottoes:
1) Spes mea in Deo (My hope is in God)
2) Deus veritatem protegit (God protects the truth)
We have 11 coats of arms for the Roper surname depicted here. These 11 blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore a Roper Coat of Arms include:
1) Roper, now Curson, Henry, of Waterpery, county Oxfordshire (afterwards 14th Baron Teynham) 1788
2) Roper before Curzon, Henry F., of Waterpery, county Oxfordshire, of Linstead, county Kent, Quarterly 1813
3) Roper after Trevor, Charles Blayney (grandson Baron Teynham), of Lewisham and Lee, county Kent and Clones, county Monaghan, Ireland. Quarterly Arms, 1809.
There are hundreds of notable people with the Roper surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) Daniel Calhoun Roper (1867-1943) was the 7th United States Secretary of Commerce and the 5th United States Ambassador to Canada, 2) Brian Roper who was an American Gaelic football (soccer) player who played for Aodh Ruadh and Donegal, 3) John Christopher Roper (1971) who was a pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants, 4) Christian David “Jim” Roper (1916) who is an American NASCAR driver from Halstead Kansas who won several important races in 1949, 5) Moses Roper (1815-1891) who was a mulatto slave who escaped and wrote a book about his experiences, 6) Jesse M. Roper (1851-1901) who was an officer in the United States Navy during the Spanish-American War born in Glasgow, Missouri, 7) Sylvester H. Roper (1823-1896) who was an American inventory from Boston, MA who is credited for inventing the motorcycle and one of the world’s earliest automobiles in 1863, and 8) Elmo Burns Roper Jr. (1900-1971) who was born in Hebron, Nebraska and became a pollster known for his pioneering work in opinion polling.
William Roper (c. 1496-1578), MP & High Sheriff of Kent
Margaret Roper (1505-1544)
Brigadier-General Alexander William Roper (1862-1940)
credit: National Portrait Gallery, London
Charles Louis Roper (1856-1935)
credit: Larry Moyer at wikitree.com