This long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a topographical name from residence by a ditch or dyke, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "dic", dyke, earthwork, Middle English "diche, dike". The medieval dyke, a wider and more prominent feature than the modern ditch, was usually constructed for purposes of defence rather than drainage, and in places of Norse settlement, the word "dyke" may be from the oblique case of the Olde English "dic", reinforced by the Old Norse "diki". Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognizable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. Early examples of the surname include: John attedich (Cambridgeshire, 1260); John del Dike (Yorkshire, 1297); Robert del Dykes (Cumberland, 1303); and William del Dikes (Yorkshire, 1332). Mr Dykes, an early settler in the New World, was recorded as a landholder of some standing on St. Davids, the Sommer Islands, on August 23rd 1673. A notable namebearer was John Bacchus Dykes (1823 - 1847), theologian; Doctor of Music, Durham, and composer of numerous hymn-tunes. A Coat of Arms granted to the Dykes family is a silver shield, on a chief indented red, three bezants or gold coins, significant of the pieces of gold found during pilgrimages to Byzantine lands. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Joc de la Dike, which was dated circa 1250, in "Studies in Middle English Local Surnames", Sussex, 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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