During the course of our research into the name lapko we have traced its origin to West Prussia. Similar to East Prussia, this province on the river Vistula (Weicmel) used to belong to the Order of the German Knights. The Teutonic Order, as they are also named, was composed of pious noblemen who had participated in the Crusades. They expanded their territories eastwards, supporting their colonization by building fortresses as they moved. Except for some church territories, the Order's empire stretched from here to the land of Estonia on the Baltic coast. West Prussia was a Polish territory under the Duchy of Pomerellen until 1309, when the Order made it a pan of its state. The knights founded Elbing, Thom, Culm, and Graudenz, and built several fortified castles, the most famous being Marienburg, an architectural jewel on the river Nogat that was the seat of the Order's "Hochmeister" (grand master).
Under the protection of the Order's fortified castles, German farmers colonized the rich lands and developed the soil's potential, while the Slavic tribes were convened to Christianity. Here the Weicmel (Vistula) plain was an ideal area for growing crops such as wheat and sugar beets. Towns were built according to plan, rather than allowed to expand by chance, one of the first uses of urban planning in the Middle Ages. Therefore, West Prussia had a distinctive ethnic composition of Germanic and Polish peoples.
During the mediaeval period, members of the lapko family were found in West Prussia and Pomerelia, where the name emerged in mediaeval times as one of the notable families in the western region. From the13th century onwards the surname was identified with the great social and economic evolution which made this territory a landmark contributor to the development of the nation.
After the Order of German Knights broke up in 1466, West Prussia became a "class state" under the protection of the Polish King. This form of government worked by mutual agreement between the different levels of society: the nobility, church, the citizens, and the free landholders. In 1569 a large part of West Prussia came completely under Polish domination, until it was incorporated as a province in the expanding empire of Brandenburg Prussia in 1772, after the partition of Poland. Danzig and Thorn remained Polish until 1793. The two regions of East and West Prussia were briefly united between 1824 and 1878.
During this period of transition, the family lapko moved to Prussia, where they continued to be an important contributor to the life of Europe in the Middle Ages. They branched into Bohemia where they held lands and estates and later branched to Germany as ambassadors. From the 16th century onwards they held significant positions of prestige and power becoming involved in tribal struggles for supremacy. The family were recorded as Knights of Bohemia in 1850.
Throughout the course of history, the spelling of a name may even vary from father to son, as the name evolved and changed within the German language. Since only the scribes could read and write, names were often recorded based on the way they sounded, which produced great variations due to regional dialects. It was also common in German to add elements to a name, which gave information about the person's religion, place of origin, or even character. Variations of the family name lapko include Lapkovitch, Lapka, Lapki, Lapko, Lapkavitch and Lapkivitchto name a few examples.
Notables of the time with the name lapko were the Lapkovitch family of West Prussia. Emigration to Australia followed the first fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers.
Contemporary notables bearing this name or one of its variants include: Larry Lapka, American record collector, music critic, and publisher of the award winning music fanzine Hear Again.
Another notable is Lord Petro Lapko KMOM the Current Duke of Cesis - 23rd Marquis of Wenden