This unusual and distinguished surname, having no less than ten Coats of Arms, and with some notable entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography", is of Old Scandinavian origin, and is a locational name from the parish and village of Ellerker, west of Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Recorded as "Alrecher" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Elreker" in the 1202 Feet of Fines for Yorkshire, the place was so called from the Old Scandinavian "elri", alders, alder grove, with the Norwegian "kjerr", wet ground (especially where brushwood grows), Swedish "karr", fen, marsh; hence, "elri-kjerr". Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. Early bearers of the name include: John de Ellerker, "taillour", entered in the 1315 Register of the Freemen of the City of York, and Sir Ralph Ellerker, a notable warrior who, in 1513, was knighted on Flodden Field, and while marshal of the English army in France, took the Crest from the dauphin at the capture of Boulogne (1544). This Crest shows two dolphins hauriant and endorsed azure and gold, enfiled with a ducal coronet per pale all counterchanged. The Coat of Arms most associated with the Ellerker name is a silver shield with a fess between three red water bougets. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Denis de Elreker, which was dated 1204, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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