This interesting surname found equally in England and Scotland and occasionally in Ireland, is a medieval pet form of Richard, the second most popular baptismal name in the 11th and 12th Centuries. 'Richard' derives from the Old Germanic personal name 'Ric-hard' made up of the elements "ric", meaning power, and "-hard", brave and strong. Given a build up like this it is not suprising that the name was popular and particularly so with the Norman Invaders of 1066. Although first recorded in England in the 8th century, it was the exploits of Richard, Coeur de Lion, (Richard 1 of England 1189 - 1199) in the crusades of the 12th century which gave it the final seal of approval. It could be said that the popular academic interest of the Medieval Period was the development of nicknames and pet forms, and 'Richard' provided perhaps the greatest number of variants of all. The personal name of 'Dick' was first recorded in the 1220 Curia Rolls of Lancashire, when one Dicke Smith was mentioned and Dik de Hyde, was recorded in the Assize Court Rolls of Cheshire in 1286. The patronymic "Diks(on)", meaning "son of Dick", first appears in 1332, in the Subsidy Rolls of Cumberland, and thereafter as Dickson, Dixson, Dickens, etc became highly popular. Early examples of the surname recording include William Dik in the 1356 rolls of Gloucester, William Dykes in the 1362 pipe rolls of Norfolk, and William Dyckk, rector of Godwick in Norfolk in the year 1420. Amongst the many famous nameholders was Sir Alexander Dick of Edinburgh (1703 - 1785), the eminent physician, and Sir Robert Dick, who died leading his troops at the battel of Sobraon, India, in the Sikh War of 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Dic, which was dated Circa 1250, in the rolls of Colchester, Essex, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as 'The Frenchman' 1216 - 1272. 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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