This very interesting surname in the spelling of Dunkerk, Dunkirk and the dialectal Dunkiss, is English. It would seem to originate from the French city of the same sound, except for one salient point, there are, or were no less than five places in England called Dunkirk. These were found in the counties of Gloucester, Nottingham, Norfolk, Staffordshire and Kent, the latter being near Canterbury and closer to the French city than to London! However there is also a second point which may have some relevance, in France the place is spelt Dunquerque. Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say names given to people who left their original villages to move somewhere else. In this case this surname could originate from any of the five places, although we think the most likely is from the Kent village. What is perhaps surprising is that Dunquerque does not seem to have given rise to surnames in either France or Britain, although there are at least ten variations as a surname of Boulogne, the port just down the coast. These include the famous Anne Boleyn, whose ancestors came from Boulogne. The placename in England means 'the church on the hill (or down)', and examples of the surname recording in the surviving registers of the city of London include Edward Dunkirk, who was christened at St Johns Hackney, on August 9th 1713, Joseph Dunkiss christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on July 3rd 1764, and Moses Dunkerk, christened at St Leonards Shoreditch, on August 7th 1781.
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