This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century adjective "bloec" or "blac" meaning "black" or the Olde English "bla(a)c" meaning white or fair. In Middle English (1200 - 1500) the latter two words fell together as "blake", making it impossible to distinguish whether the nickname derived from the word was applied to a dark-haired or a fair-haired person. A sizeable group of early European surname were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to occupation, or to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, and habits of dress. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 12th Century, (see below). On August 21st 1635, one Francis Blake, aged 18 yrs., embarked from London on the ship "George" bound for Virginia. He was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to enter America. William Blake (1757 - 1827), poet and painter, was a student at the Royal Academy, 1778. He engraved and published "Songs of Innocence" (1789), and "Prophetic Books" (1793 - 1804). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter le Blake, which was dated 1167, in the "Pipe Rolls of Devonshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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