This unusual surname, chiefly found in East Anglia, derives from the Old Norse "fiskr", cognate with the Olde English pre 7th Century "fisc", fish, and was originally given either as a metonymic occupational name to a fisherman or fishmonger, or as a nickname to someone bearing some fancied resemblance to a fish. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary, whereas, nicknames were given with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance, and to habits of dress and occupation. Fisk occurs as a personal name in the Domesday Book of 1086 for Norfolk, and is probably the Old Norse "fiskr", fish, used as a byname. Early examples of the surname include: Ernis Fish (Lincolnshire, 1202), and Daniel Fisc (Suffolk, 1208). Notable bearers of the name were William Fisk (1796 - 1872), a successful painter, famous for his historical pictures, and William Henry Fisk, his son (1827 - 1884), anatomical draughtsman to the College of Surgeons, and lecturer at the University College School, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is a shield chequy silver and red, on a black pale three gold mullets, the Crest being a gold estoile on the point of a triangle. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Fisk, which was dated 1230, in the "Pipe Rolls of Nottinghamshire", 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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