Recorded in a number of spelling forms including: Oakey, Okey, Oki and Okie, this interesting surname is medieval English. It is also residential and is derived from the pre 7th century Olde English word 'ac' meaning the oak tree. The surname has three possible sources. The first is topographical for someone who lived in or near a prominent oak tree. The 'oak' was considered to have many powers, and a particulary tall or wide example would often be used as a meeting point, for a tribe or council. The second possible source is locational from any of the minor places named with this word, such as the village of Oake in the county of Somerset. As an example from this source, John de Oky is recorded in the Hundred Rolls of Somerset, in 1272. The third source is derived from a nickname for someone 'as strong as oak', and as such the personal name is first recorded as Achi and Aki, for the counties of Lincolnshire, Suffolk and Warwickshire, in the Domesday Book of 1086. Other examples taken from surviving early church registers include: Hyrum Oakey, who married Margaret Fellows at Hanwell, New Brentford, in 1656, and Mary Oakey who married James Thorp in Manchester, Lancashire in 1678. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of Henry Oky. This was dated 1221, in the Assize Rolls of Gloucestershire, during the reign of King Henry 111 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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