Recorded as Gawk, Gawke, Gook, Gooke, Gouck, the patronymics Gawkes, Goakes, Gokes, and Gookes, the diminutives Gooken, Goky, Gookie, Gooky, Gookey, and possibly others, this interesting and usually rare surname, is English. However it derives from the pre 7th century Norse word "gauke" and the later Middle English "goke", meaning a cuckoo. As such it is one of a major group of nickname surnames taken from birds or animals, and which in this case may have described a noisy person, or perhaps given the robust humour of the period, the reverse! The surname is one of the earliest recorded as shown below, and the fact that it has survived through to the 21st century would suggest that it was a name of endearment. Early examples of recordings taken from surviving rolls and charters of the mnedieval period include Thomas Gouk or Gouck, in the Assize Rolls of Yorkshire in 1419, Thomas Gauke, in the register of the Freemen of the city of York in 1424, and John Gook also recorded in the same register in 1524. Examples of the surname recordings taken at random from surviving registers of the city of London, include Margaret Gookes, christened on July 8th 1656 at St. Giles Cipplegate, Rebecca Goky or Gooky who married George Holmes at St Brides Fleet Street, on June 24th 1703, Jacob Goaks who married Mary Webster on February 3rd 1763 at St. Olave, Southwark, and Stuart Gouck who married Sophia Hall at St Mary's Bermondsey, on November 28th 1815. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan Gok. This was dated 1219, in the Assize Rolls of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 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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