This Anglo-Scottish surname derives from pre 7th Century word "munuc", meaning a monk, or one who lived at a monastery. The name was originally occupational, describing a servant employed at such a place, although later it assumed the religious meaning with which it is associated. As a surname it was almost always a nickname for somebody who looked like a monk, or for one who led a solitary life given to good works, or to an actor, one who played the part of a monk in the pageants or the travelling theatres of the Middle Ages. That it was a nickname is evidence by the fact that monks were supposed to be celibate, and precluded by ecclesiastical law from marriage. In the 20th century the name can be spelt as Monk, the patronymic Monks, Monck, Monnick, Munck, or Munk. In Irish, the surname is anglicised as Minogue and Monaghan. Early recordings of the name mention a Peter le Monek in the rolls known as "The writs of Parliament" for the years 1296 - 1300, and Johannes Mounke in the Poll Tax records for Yorkshire in the year 1379. James Henry Monk (1789 - 1856) had the correct occupation because he became the bishop of Gloucester and Bristol in 1850, whilst William Henry Monk (1823-1889) was a noted composer and professor of music at King's College, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aylric Munec, which was dated circa 1045, in the the Anglo- Saxon Wills register. This was during the reign of King Edward of England, known as "The Confessor", 1042 - 1066. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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