Few of the ancient surnames of England have left their mark so vividly on the pages of time as Caplice. Of Norman origin, the history of this family name entwines itself throughout the fabric of the ancient chronicles of England.

Examination of ancient manuscript reproductions such as the Domesday Book (compiled in 1086 by William the Conqueror), the Ragman Rolls, the Wace poem, the Honour Roll of the Battel Abbey, the Curia Regis, Pipe Rolls, the Falaise Roll, tax records, baptismals, family genealogies, local parish and church records reveals the first record of the name Caplice was found in Herefordshire where they were seated from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their leige Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Through the ages, your name, Caplice, occurred in many references with different spellings. Capel, Capell, Caple, Cappel, Keppel, and these changes in spelling occurred, even between father and son. Three major events of a person's life, birth, marriage, and death were recorded. Frequently, all were different, all three spellings relating to the same person.

The surname Caplice is believed to be of Norman origin, a race commonly but mistakenly assumed to be of French origin. More accurately they were of Viking origin. The Vikings landed in the Orkneys and Northern Scotland about the year 870 A.D., under their King, Stirgud the Stout. Thorfinn Rollo, his descendant, scion of an explorer clan who may well have visited North America, landed in northern France about the year 940 A.D. The French King, Charles the Simple, after Rollo laid siege to Paris, finally conceded defeat and granted northern France to Rollo. Rollo became the first Duke of Normandy, the territory of the north men. Rollo married Charles' daughter and became a convert to Christianity. Descended from Rollo was Duke William of Normandy who invaded England in 1066 and was victorious over the Saxon King Harold at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

William granted his Norman nobles much of the land of England for their assistance at the Battle of Hastings. Those estates still held by these families in 1086 were granted in perpetuity, for ever, hence, the name of the census was called the Domesday Book. Amongst these Normans a noble is believed to have been your distant ancestor. After careful analysis the researchers found that the first evidence of your surname was found in Herefordshire where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated at How Capel with manor and estates in that shire. They were originally from La Chapelle in Normandy. They later branched to Gloucestershire about the 13th century, and to Allerton near Glastonbury in Somerset. The notorious Earl of Essex (a Capel) who had an affair with the first Queen Elizabeth, was descended from a Lord Mayor of London. Family seats were at How Capel and Stroud, Presbury, and The Grove in Gloucestershire, as well as Kent. Notable amongst the family at this time was Earl of Essex.

During the 15th, 16th and 17th century England, Scotland, and Ireland were ravaged by religious and political conflicts as first one element then another fought for control. This created the unrest that was to produce a great exodus, either voluntarily, or by banishment, as first one side acquired control, then another. The tyranny assumed the profile of an inquisition, and many innocent men were either banished to the colonies, imprisoned or hanged, drawn and quartered. Alliances were all important. Arranged marriages assured families of protection and influence in the right quarter. Family names were obliterated, names such as the Percys, the Nevilles and the Fenwicks, once the great clans of the north of England, were reduced to obscure names. Electing royalty to the wrong side could cause disastrous results to the future of a whole family name.

Manipulation of families known to be loyal to the cause in power was the only way of survival, there being no standing army. Subjugation of Ireland became the objective of a succession of monarchs. Many families were freely 'encouraged' to migrate to Ireland, or to the 'colonies'. Lands were granted free, or at nominal payments. Some families were rewarded with these grants of lands, others were banished.

In Ireland, settlers became known as the "Adventurers for land in Ireland'. Called 'Undertakers' they undertook to maintain the protestant faith within their families and all those who worked for them. In Ireland they settled in County Carlow where the name was frequently spelled Keppel.

But the New World beckoned and migration continued, some voluntarily from Ireland, but mostly directly from England or Scotland, their home territories. Some clans and families even moved to the European continent.

Kinsmen of the family name Caplice were amongst the many who sailed aboard the armada of small sailing ships, such as the Hector, the Rambler, and the Dove, ships known as the 'White Sails' which plied the stormy Atlantic during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. These overcrowded ships were pestilence ridden, sometimes 30% to 40% of the passenger list never reaching their destination, their numbers reduced by dysentery, cholera, small pox and typhoid.

Amongst the settlers which could be considered a kinsman of the surname Caplice, or a variable spelling of that family name was William Cappell who settled in Virginia in 1635; John Cappell settled in Virginia in 1656; Thomas Cappells settled in Virginia in 1720. The trek from the port of entry was also arduous and many joined the wagon trains to the prairies or over the Rockies to the west coast. During the War of Independence, many loyalists made their way north to Canada about 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.

Present day notables of this surname, Caplice, include many distinguished persons, Daniel Cappell, Pathologist.

During the course of our research we also determined the many Coats of Arms granted to different branches of the family name.

The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms found was;
Red with a lion rampant between three gold crosses.

The Crest is;
A lion holding a cross.

The ancient family motto for this distinguished name is;
"Fide Et Fortitudine"


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This Page first produced on 5 Feb 1997

This Page laste updated on 30 August 2018