Origins of the Stepp Name
By William W. Stepp
There was a time when all people had only one name. When the population grew, it became necessary to take a "sur" name (required by law in some nations). This allowed the naming of great numbers of people by using the combination of the "given name" and the new sur name. People took their sur name from their mode of living, place of living, or the type of work they were doing.
In the case of the Stepp name, we believe people were first called by the predecessor name for Stepp in Flemish Belgium (Flanders). This writer's library has a copy of J. B. Riestap's "Amorial General." It shows a coat-of- arms for Steps or Steppe. It shows a red shield with three pilgrim walking staffs of gold. The motto "Gardez La Foi" (French) means "Keep the Faith." This writer has that Coat-of- Arms on his home office wall. Edward Cecil Step, of Surrey, England, United Kingdom, who has traced his line back to the early 1700s in Cornwall (Lanreath) England, found the spelling of Steps there as early as 1400 AD. He found other Steps in the Devon area. In addition he found Sir John Stappe, the incumbent of Landulph Church from 1436 to 1490. Landulph is a parish on the border of Devon and Cornwall. Robert V. Stepp of Knoxville, Tennessee, found ancient grave markers with the Stepp name in the south of Scotland.
As to the origin or meaning of our name Step/Stepp, most researchers agree that our name came from the word "step" and from a "place" name, in this case from a river crossing by a series of stepping stones. A minority believe it came from an "object" name, in this case a staff-- a pilgrim's walking staff-- as on our Coat-of-Arms.
The name Stepp is in Germany (spelled as given) in the mid to late 1700s. It is said to have evolved from the spelling Stapf and sometimes Von Stapf. Historians agree the name in all likelihood originated in Germany, traveled through various evolvements on the continent and the name migrated to England, perhaps with William the Conqueror, arriving in the Stepp/Step/Stap variations. This means, if we were to go back far enough, the German immigrants from Germany are also our relatives even though our immediate line came from England.