The Name "Lapthorn"
The name Lapthorn is most common in South Devon, England. There is at least one farm named Lapthorn in the South Hams of Devon, the area to the very south of the county. Although Lapthorns live elsewhere in England, especially around Southampton (e.g. Ratsey and Lapthorn, the sailmakers) , South Devon is where they seem to have originated. Over the last two hundred years they have spread far and wide. There are several now living in Australia and New Zealand. The word Loppedethorn (Lapthorn) is recorded in a list of placenames in and around Modbury, Devon, UK. The name was used before 1400 but it is not recorded in the Domesday Book . Loppedethorn was probably a home of small farmers, perhaps free men, perhaps villeins who lived and worked on their isolated farms at a distance from their masters' manors.
Lapthorns in the 1400s
The following is written in Feudal Aids Vol II p809 36 Heuis (South Huish)....“In 1428 Philippus Courtenay, Iohannes Lopethorne, Iohannes Cryspyn, Ricardus Talbott and Willelmus Gyffard held 1 fee in Gealmeton which formerly Walterus Maune held”. So, it looks as if there were Lapthorns in the South Hams as long ago as 1428!
Lapthorns in the 1500s
The following appeared in the July 21st 1505 Totnes Court Roll...."Thomas Skymer plaintiff against Iohannes Lapthorne in a plea of agreement broken”. "Iohannes Lapthorne plaintiff against Thomas Skynn(m?)er de Staverton in a plea of debt. Surities for latter are Ambrose Swete and Iohannes Bowden wever. And the same Thomas is in mercy for the detention of 14s 4d which he promised to pay at the festival of St Michael last and is given to the festival of All Saints next.”There are copies of both these references in the public library at Kingsbridge in South Devon.