Recorded as Dunk, Dunke and Dunks, and originally as Donk, Dounckes, Dunck, Dunkes and possibly others, this is an English surname with nobility associations. There appear to be several possible origins, none entirely convincing. The most probable is that like the diminutives and patronymics Donkin, Dunkin Donkinson and Dunkinson, it is a variant or short form of the personal name Duncan. Although much associated with Scotland, Duncan is also a Northern English name. However perhaps surprisingly, the first of all known recording is that of 'Donecan of Somerset', in the famous Domesday Book of 1086. Duncan derives from the pre 7th century Olde English and Gaelic 'Donnchad' meaning brown warrior, and is possibly a reference to a soldier who wore chain mail. This was expensive equipment in its day, but it tended to go rusty brown quite quickly when out soldiering in the changeable weather of the British Isles. The surname was very prominent in British life of the 17th and 18th centuries, with in particular George Montague Dunk. He was the earl of Halifax and the founder of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1749. Other early examples include Mary Dunk who married Phillip Cartwright at St Mary Aldermary, on July 22nd 1606, and Peter Dunks who married Mary Lambeth at St James Dukles Place, Westminster, on July 29th 1689.Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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