This name, with variant spellings Bankes and Banker, derives from the Northern Middle English "bank(e)", itself coming from the Old Danish "banke" meaning a ridge or hillside, and was originally given as a topographical name to someone who lived on the slope of a hillside or by a riverbank. The final "s" on the name preserves the Olde English genitive ending i.e., "of the bank". The surname was first recorded towards the end of the 13th Century (see below). One Matthew Banke appeared in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk, dated 1327, and on June 21st 1546, Alse, daughter of John Banks, was christened in St.Antholin's, Budge Row, London. A John Banks of Devon was entered in the Oxford University Register, dated 1597. The famous "dancing horse", Morocco, to which allusion is made by all the best authors of the day, was owned by the Scottish showman, Banks, who flourished 1588 - 1637. The works of Sir Edward Banks (1769 - 1835), who was knighted 1822, include Waterloo, Southwark, and London Bridges. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter del Banck, which was dated 1297, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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