Recorded in a number of spellings including Fakes, Faulks, Faulkes, Fawkes, Fawks, Fawlks, Fawlkes, Foulks, Foulkes, Fowkes and others this famous surname is arguably Norman-French, and was introduced into the British Isles around the time of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. It derives however from the pre 6th century Germanic given name of Falco meaning falcon, through the later Faulques. This name in medieval times was probably a nickname surname for a person thought to resemble a falcon, perhaps being fierce or rapacious, or in some cases, the complete opposite. The surname is early 13th century as shown below and examples of recordings from thsi period taken at random include John Fakes in the Subsidy Tax rolls of the county of Essex in 1327, and Robert Faukes in the Subsidy Tax rolls of Sussex in the same year. Recordings of the surname taken from surviving city of London church registers include: Elizabeth Fawkes who was christened on May 26th 1560, at St. Mary le Bow Church; Awdrey Fawlkes who was christened on October 28th 1565 at the church of Harrow on the Hill; and Jane Fowkes who married William Smith on April 29th 1614 at St. Mary le Strand. The most famous holder of the name was Guy Fawkes. Born in York in 1570, he adopted Roman Catholicism, and was held to be guilty of the crime of attempting to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Faukes. Dated 1221, it appears in the transcripts of charters relating to the Gilbertine Houses, during the reign of King Henry 111rd, 1216 -1272. 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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