This is an ancient English surname, although also well recorded in Ireland, where a branch of the family from Buckinghamshire held great estates in Tipperary, Longford and Dublin. The origination for all nameholders is the villages now known as Greater and Lesser Sankey in south west Lancashire, and the River Sankey, from which they take their name. These are variously recorded through history in the spellings of Sonchi in the year 1180, Sanki in the tax rolls and registers known as the 'Feet of Fines' for the year 1202, and as Sonkey in 1228. The meaning is open to conjecture, but the spellings suggest a dialectal form of the pre 7th century Olde English 'Sand ig', a sandy place, or even an island of sand in a fen. The surname is first recorded in Lancashire in 1273 when Gerard de Sanki, lord of the manor of Sankey, appears in the rolls known as 'Testa de Neville' for the first year of the reign of King Edward 1st (1272 - 1307). Later recordings showing the erratic spellings include Roger de Sonky in 1299, John Sankey of Dublin in 1562, and Edward Sankey of Sankey, whose will was proved at Chester in 1609. Most surnames are 'from' names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homes and moved elsewhere. In this case though the origination is more clear cut, and the presence of the same landowning family in the village for more than three hundred years gives added credibility.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017