This very interesting surname is of early English medieval origins. It is to be found chiefly in the West Country, and is either topographical or locational. If the former it was a surname for someone who lived by a stream or water course or a bog. The derivation is either from the Old English pre 7th century word 'lacu' meaning a water course or 'laecc', meaning a bog. Curiously the word lake meaning a body of open water, is not apparently recorded in England before the 13th century, and it is uncertain as to whether it was the source of surnames at all. However the surname can be locational from places called Lake, at least two villages being so recorded in the counties of Wiltshire and Devonshire, whilst many other place names such as Mortlake, or Lakenheath have the word lake as either a suffix or prefix, and may have provided nameholders. The place in Wiltshire is first recorded in the Feudal Aid rolls of the county in 1316. The modern surname is recorded as Lake, Lack, Lakes, Laker, meaning one who lived by or worked by a water course, and Lakeman, which has a similar meaning. One William Lake was an early emigrant to the New England colonies in America. He left London on the ship 'Assurance' in July 1635, bound for Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de la Lake. This was dated 1200, in the Shropshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King John of England, and known by the nickname of 'Lackland', 1199-1216. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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