Recorded as Blake and the much rarer Blague and Blakes, this famous English surname has two totally contradictory origins, although both are nicknames and both are possibly nationalistic. The first is from the pre 7th Century adjective "blac" meaning "black", and used as a nickname for somebody of black haired or dark complexion. It may have referred to the native Olde English (the Celts). The second is from the almost similar word "blaac" meaning white or fair haired or fair complexion, and which may have referred to settlers from Germany (The Anglo-Saxons) or from Scandanavia (The Vikings). Later in 12th century Middle English the two words came together as "blake", making it impossible to distinguish whether the name derived from a dark or fair person! What is certain is that many early surnames were created from nicknames, and this is one of them. The surname was first recorded in the latter half of the 12th century, making it one of the earliest on record. Examples of interesting nameholders include Francis Blake, who left London on April 15th 1635, bound for the colony of Virginia, and may have been the first of the name in the New World, Admiral Robert Blake, (1599 - 1657), who destroyed the Spanish Fleet at Santa Cruz, but died on his way home, and Hannah Blakes who married John Berry at the church of All Hallows, London Wall, on May 16th 1665. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Walter le Blake. This was dated 1167, in the "Pipe Rolls" of the county of Devonshire, and during the reign of King Henry 11nd, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189.
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