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Origins of the Harper surname

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What does the name Harper mean?

The origin of the Harper surname is English. It is an occupational surname and would have been given to someone who played the harp (a popular medieval instrument) at fairs, festivals or in a noble household, and then passed to their descendants. In aristocratic homes, the occupation could be considered an official position of great prestige.

Alternative variations of the name Harper

Harper, Harpar, Harpers, Harber, Herper

I’ve managed to trace back to the mid-1500s! I can’t believe it! Utterly engrossing and I have uncovered some quite moving and heartbreaking stories attached to various ancestors. You don’t need any qualifications to start - just time patience, and some information.

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Where do most Harpers live?

In 1921, most Harpers lived in West Midlands.

Census records trace your ancestors through each generation, so you can follow where your relatives lived through each decade.

Interesting facts about Harpers

How common is your surname?

205th most common surname in the UK

We have 189,000 records for the Harper surname. The oldest one dates back to 1539.

Who were Harpers most likely to marry?




Our Marriage record sets tell us which families married Harpers.

What are the most common Harper first names?

  • John
  • William
  • Mary
  • Elizabeth

Our birth record sets tell us the names of Harper family members

Common jobs for Harpers

Men and women often performed different types of jobs, so these are displayed by gender to maintain their historical accuracy.

Common Female occupations for Harpers in 1921


Domestic Servant




General Servant Domestic


House Servant


Common Male occupations for Harpers in 1921
Coal Miner


Agricultural Labourer


General Labourer




Farm Labourer


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We found over 200,000 family trees with the Harper surname

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