This interesting surname is a variant of Cork itself deriving from the Celtic word "corcair" (medieval English "Cork"), a purple or red dye stuff and was originally given as a metonymic occupational name to a supplier of this dye or to a dyer of cloth with cork. The ultimate origin of the name lies in the Latin "Purpura", the name of the shellfish from which the dye was obtained. The famous Tyrian purple was made from a mixture of these shells and was very costly to produce. Because the woollen robes worn by Roman Emperors was dyed with this colour, purple became symbolic of nobility and power. The occupation of dyer was therefore held in high esteem. The surname was first recorded in England in the late 13th Century, (see below). Adam le Corker, appearing in the 1296, "Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield", Yorkshire, held this position, (the final "er" on the name is the agent suffix). One William Corker, the infant son of Adam Corker was christened on May 30th 1596 at St. Mary, Magdalene, Bermondsey. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Cork, which was dated 1278, in the Calendar of Letter Books for London, 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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