There are three possible sources of this unusual name, the first being that it is from an Olde Saxon byname 'Erpo', meaning "dark" and would have been given to a dark or swarthy complexioned person. Secondly, it is possible that it is a dialectal variant from a metonymic occupational name 'erpel', which is a derivation of the Middle Low German 'erpel', a drake, and would have been given to a person who tended ducks. Lastly there is a likelihood that this surname is locational from a place called Erpel in the Rhineland, a name of pre-Germanic origin. Two early records of christenings in London of name bearers are: one Elizabeth Earp, daughter of Jephery and Elizabeth born on 20th September 1657, and one Mermeduke Earp, son of William and Mary Earp at St. Margarets, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Erpe, which was dated Marriage Licence Records London, 1561, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Good Queen Bess, 1558 - 1603.