This very interesting and fairly rare surname has nothing whatsoever to do with rather large Canadian four legged mammals, but may well describe a Medieval occupation carried out in equally tough circumstances. "Elke" is believed to derive from the medieval "hulc", itself from the 7th Century Anglo-Saxon "helkein" - meaning "to Tow", and the name describes one who literally towed ships either by use of a team in a rowing boat or by ropes from a bank. A further possibility is that Elke(s) is a patronymic form of the hebrew female name, "Elke", the normal surname form being "Elkin" i.e.the son of Elke. Either way the name has a long and honourable history, it is most prevalent in the London area, another pointer to its probable "water" origins. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Elks, which was dated January 24th 1583, a witness at St. Ann's, Blackfriars, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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