This very interesting surname with spellings which include Sparke, Sparks, Sparkes and Spark, is medieval English. However it originates from the pre 7th century Old Norse nickname "Sparkr", meaning sprightly or vivacious through the later Norman French invaders after the Conquest of England in 1066. It was given either to a particularly bright or lively person, or possibly given the Chaucerian humour of those ancient times, the complete reverse! The surname first appears in written records in the early 13th Century, (see below), and the early surname development includes such recordings as those of Ralph Sparke, in the register of the Abbey of Ely in Cambridge, in the year 1221, whilst a John Sparkes was listed in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Yorkshire in 1301. The plural form of the name is a patronymic 'son of Sparke'. Early examples of the surname recordings taken from surviving church registers of city of London in the Tudor and Elizabethan periods include: Phenisse Sparkes who was christened at St. Mary-at-Hill, on July 17th 1557, whilst Elizabett, the daughter of Thomas Sparkes, was christened on September 25th 1642, at St. Brides, Fleet Street. Other examples are those of John Sayer who married Elizabeth Sparke on November 29th 1683, also at St. Giles Cripplegate, whilst Joseph Sparkes (1683-1740), educated at St. John's College, Cambridge in 1704, later edited the "Historariae Anglicane Scriptores". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Sperc. This was dated 1202, in the Assize Court rolls of Lancashire, during the reign of King John of England, 1199 - 1216. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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