This long-established surname, widespread in Scotland and in the north of England, is of Old Scandinavian origin, and is a locational name either from Copeland in Cumberland, or from Coupland, a parish north west of Wooler in Northumberland, containing Copeland Castle. The former place, recorded as "Couplanda circa 1125, and as "Coupland" in the 1228 Charter Rolls of Cumberland, was so called from the Old Norse "kaupland", "bought land", a feature worthy of note as, during the Middle Ages, land was rarely sold, but rather handed down from one generation to the next. The latter place, appearing as "Coupland" in the 1242 Feet of Fines for Northumberland, shares the same meaning and derivation. Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. Early examples of the surname include: Thomas de Coupland and Rodbert de Copland (Greenlaw, Roxburghshire, circa 1200); Samson de Copland (Northumberland, 1204); and John de Coupland, hero of the battle of Neville's Cross, in 1346. A notable namebearer was Patrick Copland, professor of natural philosophy at Aberdeen, 1775 - 1779. The Coat of Arms held by the Copland family of Scotland is a red shield with three gold stars, the Crest being a knight in armour, brandishing a sword in his right hand, and bearing in his left an imperial crown. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Copland, which was dated circa 1160, in the "Early Medieval Records of Scotland", during the reign of King Malcolm 1V of Scotland, 1153 - 1165. 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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