Recorded in a variety of spellings including Pook, Pooke, Pochar, Poacher, Poutcher, Poker, and Pooker, his interesting and unusual name is English. It has apparently nothing to do with poaching or the taking of game, it is, or rather was, a nickname. As such the derivation appears to be from the Old English pre 7th century word "puca". This originally described a hobgoblin or sprite! Quite why anybody should be so-named is far from clear, but evidence suggests that it was probably used to describe a person small in stature and perhaps whimsical in thought and movement, or possibly given the Chaucerian robust humour of the medieval period, the reverse. It may also have been a theatrical name for somebody who played the part of a spirit in the early travelling theatres. The surname development over the many centuries has included examples such as Richard le Pouke in Sussex in 1296, and Richard Pouk of Somerset in 1327. Other later examples include those of Penelope Poker, at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on August 11th 1596, and in the 19th century that of Charles Poacher, who married Anne Thurlow at St James Paddington, in the city of London, on September 23rd 1830. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Puch. This was dated 1166, in the Pipe Rolls of te county of Norfolk, during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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