This interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a metonymic occupational name for a supplier of red or purple dye. The derivation of the name is from the Middle English "cork", which is of Celtic origin, from the Gaelic "corcair", purple. The name would also be used for someone who used it in dying cloth. The ultimate origin of the dye is from the Latin "purpura", which was 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 were dyed with this colour, purple became symbolic of nobility and power. The occupation of the dyer was therefore held in high esteem. In the modern idiom the name can be found as Cork, Corke, Corker and Corck. Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the marriage of William Corke and Luce Brown, which took place on November 11th 1563, at St. Giles' Cripplegate, and the christening of Hugh Corke on September 26th 1591, at St. John's, Hackney. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is a red shield with three silver radiated stars of six points pierced between two silver chevrons and three gold cinquefoils pierced. 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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