Last name: Coke

This distinguished surname, with forty entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography", and having no less than fifty Coats of Arms, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational name for a cook, seller of cooked meats, or the keeper of an eating house. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "coc", ultimately from the Latin "cocus", cook, and the surname has a particularly early first recording (see below). It also has the distinction of being recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, when one Galter Coc was noted in Essex. The surname is also widespread in early Scottish records. Richard Cocus held lands in Berwick after 1147, and Raginaldus the Cook witnessed the gift of the church of Cragyn in Kyle to the Abbey of Paisley, circa 1177. One Henry Coke, and a Ralph le Cook were recorded in Somerset and Sussex in 1279 and 1296 respectively. Notable bearers of the name were Sir Thomas Cooke, sheriff of London, 1453, and Lord Mayor of London, 1462, and Sir George Cooke who commanded the first division of guards at the Battle of Waterloo, 1815. Garret Cooke, aged 20 yrs., who embarked from London on the "Primrose" bound for Virginia in July 1635 was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to settle in America. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is a gold shield with a red chevron between two lions passant guardant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aelfsige thene Coc, which was dated circa 950, in the "Anglo-Saxon Wills Records", during the reign of Edred the Saxon, Ruler of England, 946 - 955. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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