This interesting and unusual surname is of Old Scandinavian origin, and is a patronymic form of the surname derived from the Old Norse byname "Sparkr", meaning sprightly, vivacious. The name Sparkes or Sprakes contains the patronymic suffix "-s", meaning son of; hence, "son of Sparkr". The byname was introduced into England by Scandinavian settlers. Variants of the surname in the modern idiom include Sparke, Sprake, Sprague, Spragge, and Spragg. The earlier form of the surname is first recorded in the Assize Court Rolls of Lincolnshire, of 1202, where one William Sperc is listed, and Ralph Sparke is recorded in the 1221 Book of Ely (Suffolk), while the metathesized form, transposing the "r" and "a", first appears in the early 14th Century (see below). Other early examples include Richard Sprak, mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk in 1327, and Alice Sprakes, recorded in 1359 in documents in "The Enforcement of the Statutes of Labourers, 1349 - 1359" (Somerset). Recordings from London Church Registers include the marriage of Augustine Sprake and Jonne Whyt in 1550, at St. Andrew's, Enfield, and the marriage of George Sprakes and Mary Hemmings on July 9th 1775, at Westminster. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name depicts on a blue shield, a silver eagle displayed, membered gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald Sprag, which was dated 1303, in "Inquisitions and Assessments relating to Feudal Aids", Suffolk, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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