Recorded in a number of spelling forms including Rack, Raikes, Rakes, Wrakes, Wrack, and Raiker, this is an English medieval topographical surname. It originally described a person who lived by a narrow pass or cleft in a hillside, the derivation being from the pre 7th century word "hraca" meaning throat, and as a topographical term, it is used in a transferred sense. Where the second element "er" appears, this is a suffix which emphasises that the nameholder both lives and works at the particular spot. The surname is rare but widespread, and early examples of the recordings include: Annis Wrake who married Thomas Bird at the church of St. Antholin in the city of London, on May 14th 1565, Timothy Raikes and Ann Dovee who were married at St. Benets church, Paul's Wharf, also city of London, on May 25th 1725, James Raiker, who married Mary Adamson at St. Clements church, Westminster, on January 19th 1766, and finally John Rack, whose daughter Elizabeth, was christened at the Tabernacle Independant church, Finsbury, on September 12th 1787. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of John de Rak. This was dated 1242, in the tax registers known as the Feet of Fines for the county of Devonshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop," often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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