The Origin of Our Surname, Estep
According to the Estep Genealogy & Family History by Russel A. Estep, the Estep name seems to have been originally derived from the name Este used by an ancient illustrious Roman family. By 218 B. C., the first time that the name Este included the letter "p" occurred during the Second Punic War when the Romans conquered Astepa, a Moorish town near Gibraltar (in Spain). The Romans changed the town's name to Estepa (Estepona) in honor of the Este family. The royalty of Spain was of our family at first. There was a Marquis de Estepa, the last line of which died in 1898, who also held a title of Duke. The name Estep (without the "a") was first used during the Middle Ages in Estepa (pronounced ES TA PA). Later the Estep name was found in France and was pronounced as ES TEP, with accent on second syllable, but the first vowel sounding like the E in Eh. Then around 1066 A. D., the Estep name moved to Cornwall in England and eventually to Wales. The English pronunciation was pronounced with the long E as EAST EP. In the 1600's, the Estep name first arrived in this country from Great Britain.(1) Professor Jones in a book about Maryland wrote that the early Esteps were of English and Welsh origin. They had lived in Britain hundreds of years before coming over to America to help Lord Baltimore (George Calvert) settle and colonize America. The first ones in America were referred to as Welsh. The first in England were referred to as French. In an article "What's In a Name?" from the SUNDAY GAZETTE-MAIL, Estep was described as "most likely, an American variant spelling of the Spanish name Estevan or Esteban which was formed from a Greek word, meaning 'crown.' As Stephanos, it was a popular Greek personal name, probably connected to the athletic games in which the winners were crowned with ivy, parsley, or pine-leaf wreaths. Its popularity in Christian countries was due to St. Stephen, the deacon at Jerusalem who became the first Christian martyr. According to the New Testament, he was stoned to death by the people for speaking heresy."(2) Betty McClanahan wrote on her pedigree sheets that the original version of the name is EASTHOPE which is an ancient name in England. It derives from Old English, "east" and "hop" or "hope" meaning "valley." According to the 1900 U. S. Census, the Estep name is found spelled in various ways: 77% as "Estep"; 9% as "Eastep"; 8% as "Estepp", "Esteb", "Eastepp", or "Eastup"; and 6% in 41 other derivations.(3)
(1) Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, Volume I, A-G by William Filby and Mary K. Meyer (Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1981), p. 571.
(2) "What's In a Name?" by J. C. Downing, SUNDAY GAZETTE-MAIL, May 25, 1975 (newspaper article), sent by D. A. Turner to Estep Family Newsletter, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1976, p. 104.
(3) The Estep / Eastep Genealogy (Vol. 1) compiled by Jane Farrell Burgess (Rockville, MD: by the author, 1988), p. 8.
Estep Genealogy & Family History by Russel Adin Estep (Redwood City, CA: by the author, 1944 and updated 1958), pp. 2 and 4.
"The Estep Family" by Paul Estep, from Estep Family Newsletter, Vol. 3, No. 2, October 1975,
Additional information on Estep surname
In the Thomas Estep, Sr. book by Margaret E. Vidal, et al, on pages v and vi, the author mentioned that "a large number of Esteps were found along the Welsh border in the counties of Shropshire (Salop), Gloucester, Hereford. Quite a few were found in Worcester, Strafford, Warwick, Oxford, Middlesex, and a few in Sussex and Essex." The author added that during a search in 1975, an early Estep record found was an Inquisition post Mortem dated 4 October 1303 for a JOHN DE ESTHOPE (Calendar of Inquisitions, Post Mortem and other Analogous Documents Preserved in the Public Record Office, Vol. IV, Edward I, London: published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1913, pages 117, 236 and 237).
SOURCE: Estep, Thomas, Sr. (c. 1709 - c. 1772) of Frederick County, Maryland and His Descendants compiled by Margaret Elizabeth Vidal, et al (1994), pp. v and vi.
The above information does not prove the origin of our surname but provide suggestions. If you would like to post your input about the origin or history of our surname, send it to me for inclusion. Please put on the subject line "Origin of Estep Surname" and mention that you would like it included as a follow-up to this article. Your input is always welcome.