I have heard many people ask about the origins of the name Ipswich and its medieval precursor Gyppeswycke (other spellings are available). In truth no one knows, but there have been many suggestions over the years. One of my favourites is still that of Lillian Redstone in her book Ipswich through the Ages published in 1948. She suggests that there was a tribal leader called Gippa. So 'The Gipping' is Gippa's river, and Gippeswic would be Gippa's Wic (vicus: Latin for village or neighbourhood). When it comes to a big smile on my face, I always have one for the Gippa!
Anglo-Saxon words have been studied to provide a clue, giving rise to the idea that the name derived from the bend in the river, or the way it opens out into the Orwell.
The medieval hunting bag - the gypsire - is the same shape as the medieval walls of Ipswich. Easy, but risky, to jump to a conclusion there.
If we look at the main entry for Ipswich in the Domesday Book we have 'GEPES wiz'. The book is in Latin and there is no Z in Latin, but as it is a place-name in red, the scribe might be trying to denote a different sound, perhaps "ch", or perhaps just made a funny "c".
If we look at coins of the era, for example, one inscription reads 'IOHAN ON GIPES'. This is regarded by experts as 'IOHAN AT IPSWICH'.
But what if Ipswich was not an Anglo-Saxon town, but a Viking town in the Danelaw (see the article on Thingstead in issue 196)? We could look at Norse for a meaning of the name. And if the P in GEPES is actually a capital Thorn, then you have GEPES (roughly pronounced YETHES) meaning 'Jew'. So 'GEPES wich' would mean in Norse: 'The safe harbour where the Jewish Trader/Moneyer lives'!
And 'IOHAN ON GIPES' could possibly mean 'Iohan the Jew'. Now there is a thought! As it says in the Book of Ely in AD 996: 'Ipswich is a good place to do business!'