"Could you spell that please?" This has to be a phrase every Wappat has heard many times; and after you've spelt our name out, they still don't believe you! Where does the name come from? Why is it pronounced 'Wappit'?
This page will catalogue the usage of the name "Wappat", the various spellings that have materialised, as well as charting some of the history of the first Wappat's on the family tree. It will also include some of the suggestions as to where the Wappat name came from.

Last updated: 27th April 2000 Any other suggestions, comments welcome!

Wapputt alias Johnson

This is a scan of the first time our name appears on any written document other than church records. The name of Ralph Wappat alias Johnson appears in the will of his father(Ralph Johnson)signed 11 April 1720.

This is a photograph of the grave stone of Robert Wappat, the son of Ralph Wappat alias Johnson. The stone is in latin, and reads 'Robertus Radulph Wappei alias Johnson'. Robert died 10th April 1733.

This looks like 'Wappet' but is the latin 'Wappei'.

How can we be sure how the name is spelt? Wappat appears to have been the spelling finally decided on, when Ralph Wappat, the son of Ralph Wapputt alias Johnson, signs his name as such when he witnessed a marriage in 1756. It is from this Wappat we are all descended, and this was the first record of a Wappat writing the name in his own hand. The next three generations of Wappat's continued to spell the name in this way, verified by several marriage and birth certificates. It is very important to note that many of our earliest ancestors were agricultural labourers, and many were illiterate. Some variations have been applied and continued throughout the following generations.
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Various Alterations over the years.

Eleanor Wappat, wife of William Pearson Wappat (1838), added a second "t" when registering the births of her children making it "Wappatt"

The tomb of John William Pearson Wappatt

The only son of the couple to produce children was John William Pearson Wappat, born 1866 in Darlington, England. He emigrated to the USA and then Mexico where he was also known as Juan P Williams. He married a Mexican, Rosaura Leal of Villagran.

John's wife Rosaura was buried with the surname Williams. Their first surviving son Juan, was buried with the name Wappatt, as were all his brothers and sisters.
However, the entire next generation (some 17 individuals) were named Williams, a name which remains in place to this day.

Research and photographs by Frank Wappat

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The tomb of Rosa, wife of John William Pearson Wappatt

The Tomb of Juan Williams Leal Wappatt, son of John and Rosaura

This branch of Wappat's are descended from Thomas Wappat(1829), brother to the above mentioned William Pearson Wappat. His baptism record shows his surname as 'Wappat', yet the 1881 Census of England shows his surname as 'Wappett', as well as all his children. Further generations have been spelt either 'Wappet' or 'Wappett', and the only surviving branch to keep the name are the descendants of George Wappett, who emigrated to Alaska in 1950.

It is worth noting there is a separate family of Wappett's from England, originating from the North West, in the former county of Westmorland. We have most of their family tree which to date goes back no further than 1750. The Wappett name remains from that family in Australia, the United States, Scotland, Wales and England. The name appears in that tree as Wappett, Wappet, Wapput, and even Wapup, although only Wappett's and Wappet's survive today. We intend to put this tree online soon.
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The amount of spelling 'mistakes' has not altered much over the years. It can also be the fault of the registrar who makes a birth entry and writes out the certificate, especially when having to interpret the spelling of the name when spoken to him by an illiterate father or mother, back in the agricultural labouring days of our ancestors. At my own wedding, I had the registrar write out the entry again, after she sneaked in an extra 't' (common mistake!) despite my having filled in several official forms beforehand. 

Where did our name come from?
Technically, from the woman who had the illegitimate child of Ralph Johnson, her name being Ann Wappat. In theory, we should actually all be Johnson's. Indeed, Ralph brought up his first son Ralph in his own family, after he married Ann Wycliffe, with whom he had three more children. Interesting that the name Wappat stuck, but not Johnson, despite Ralph naming his son Ralph Wappat alias Johnson in his will.

Where did Ann's name come from?
Now there's a question! Here are some possible answers.

One theory is the name is a derivation of De Waddoups pronounced "de-wad-oo". This is a Norman name, and coming to this country with the arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066. The name will have been pronounced badly by the locals, getting closer to Waddup (the 's' of Waddoups is silent in French)
Wappet is an olde English adjective meaning "fast" or "swift runner" and perhaps the locals used this as a nick name for the Norman name, turning the name to Wappet and then Wappat.

Frank Wappat

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Another theory is taken from the word Wappentake, which is the name given by the earlier Viking districts. For example, the village of Sadberge, between Stockton and Darlington was once the capital or Wappentake of the Viking settled area north of the Tees known as the Earldom of Sadberge which stretched from Hartlepool to Teesdale. Wappentakes were found in those parts of England settled by the Danes and continued to be important administrative centres in medieval times. There were neighbouring Wappentakes to Sadberge at Northallerton in Yorkshire and at Langbaurgh in Cleveland.
The word wappentake literally means `Weapon Taking' and refers to the way in which land was held in return for military service to a chief. This text taken from the following site:

I have heard, but not found any written evidence, that a "Wappett" was an official who presided at Wappentake court hearings.
Michael Wappett
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I was searching the internet for the word Wappat and I found this curious song title from the web site of Wm. Bruce Olson. Your guess is as good as mine as to the implications of the Wappat name!

Roots of Folk: Old English, Scots, and Irish Songs and Tunes;in this section:

"Wap at the Widow, my Laddie"
[references to this song include: The Scots Musical Museum #124; Early Scottish Melodies, John Glen(1900) p101; Graham MS (1694) The song is credited to A. Ramsay "replacing an indelicate old song". That song being, mentioned in Shirburn Ballads (1907) p285, an early 17th century song, "a new song entitled: To wappe with a widdow. To a new Northern Tune." The chorus ends "The bravest sport that a man can devise, is to wap with a widdow berlady." However, it does not fit the tune "Wappat the Widow my Lady" Other references to the song list the title as "Wap at the Widow, my Laddie", "Wappat the Widow", "The Widow", and "Wap at the Widow my Laddie".

William describes himself as an amateur snooper out of old songs and tunes, lovely when they're folksongs too. He welcomes comments, additions, corrections; reasonable questions considered.
Text taken from the following site:
Andrew Wappat
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I also found this reference to Wappat in a Swedish web site!

Har du wappat?

Kan man överleva utan WAP? Tidningar och annonser är överfyllda av allt som rör WAP (en liten förklaring och ordlista på WAP hittar du på http://www.merconda.se/wap.htm). WAP-telefoner, WAP designers sökes, WAP på vår hemsida. WAP är ett budskap som trummas ut med nästan religiösa glöd. Men vad innebär detta? Kommer alla att wappa?

http://www.merconda.se/nyhetsbr/oldnews.htm#Har du wappat?

I sent the text to a Norwegian friend who sent this reply:

"The language is Swedish. Nothing to do with your family name though. WAP seems to be all the latest craze. I think it has something to do with mobile telephones and connection to the Internet. In Swedish slang the words 'har du wappat' means something like 'have you been WAPPING'.
The article is all to do with surviving or not, with or without WAP."
(With thanks to Lars Fundingsland for the above translation)

Interesting to see our name is just being discovered by the world!
Andrew Wappat

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On this note, it is also interesting to learn that the domain name www.wappat.com has already been taken, by the following company;

pr+web consulting gmbh axnix/zuern
waidhausenstrasse 19/top1
Wien, Wien 1140

Domain Name: WAPPAT.COM
This domain was taken on the 24th March 2000, beating me to it! Hence, I registered the next best  domain wappat.co.uk Who would have thought our name has been bought by an Austrian company? I'm guessing it's also something to do with WAP and connecting to the internet using mobile phones.
Andrew Wappat

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