This unusual surname apparently derives from the Olde English or Saxon (German) pre 6th Century locational word "picing", and describes one who lived on a steep hill. It is also possible that the name, like Pike, is a nickname for a tall person; descriptive nicknames being popular in medieval times. What is certain is that the name in its various spelling forms has a long and distinguished history. Amongst the earliest recordings is that of one Alwinus Pic, who appears in the 1086 Domesday Book of England, commissioned by Duke William of Normandy after his 1066 Conquest. This is not strictly a surname nor, was Robert le Pik in 1191, or William le Pyk in 1216, shown in the Rolls of Sussex (England) for that year. The first Pi(c)ken recording is shown below, and this was followed by Thomas Pykyn of Essex in 1353. A Coat of Arms was granted to one Roberte Pykin (also known as Robert Pynkney) by King Edward 1 in 1299 (the Segar Roll), being a gold field with six red fusils conjoined. These arms were believed to be born at the Battle of Falkirk between Scotland and England in the same year. The name as Picken(s) was early into America, predating the 1776 Independence, John Pickens, of Augusta, Virginia, being recorded as a christening witness on March 29th 1741, whilst Emma Picken was born at Trenton, New Jersey, on March 25th 1862. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Pykyng, which was dated 1211, in the "Court Registers of the City of Colchester", Essex, during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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