Recorded as Crayke, Craik, Craco, Cracoe, and the dialectals Crago, and Cragoe, this is an English locational surname. It originates either from the village of Crayke in North Yorkshire near to the small town of Easingwold, or from Cracoe, in the former West Riding of Yorkshire, now also North Yorkshire. Crayke was first recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles in the year 980 a.d. and the origin is from the word 'craig' meaning a rock, which is a very accurate description. Cracoe was first recorded as Cracho in the pipe rolls of the county in the year 1202, when it would seem that the villagers were assessed for tax to help pay for the Crusade to the Holy Land which cost the life of King Richard 1st of England, known to history as 'Lionheart'. It is claimed by the Dictionary of English Place Names that the origin is Scandanavian, that is to say it was an area originally settled by Vikings, which may well be the case, and that the name means 'The land inhabited by crakes', as in Corncrakes, a member of the crow family. If so it probably originates from the pre 7th century Norse word 'krakkr'. However arguably Cracoe could have much the same meaning as Crayke, since geographically the area is similar. The first known recording of the surname is probably that of Phillipus de Crayk in the Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire in 1379, whilst in the diocese of Greater London, we have the recordings of John Cragoe at St James church, Dukes Place, Westminster on October 11th 1691, and that of John Craco at St Sepulchre church, in the city of London, on June 10th 1744.
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