Recorded as Sterk, Sterke, Stirk, Stirke and the probably extinct Styrke, Sturk and Le Sterk, this is an English surname of very ancient origins. It was occupational or perhaps in some cases a nickname, and a short form of the Olde English pre 7th century word "stirkherd", meaning a cattle dealer or farmer, one who specialised in fattening beef cattle. The names Bull, Stott, and Steer have exactly the same meaning and origin. If the name was a nickname, then the probable meaning in medieval times was a clumsy person, or perhaps one who was hard headed and stubborn.It is almost impossible over the passage of seven centuries or more, to give a precise meaning for many names. One would have to have been present when the name was given out, to be absolutely sure of the intended meaning. The first known recording is that of Juliana Sterk in the first year of the reign of King Edward 111rd of England in 1327, in the historical register of landowners for the county of Somerset known as "Kirby's Quest." Far away in Yorkshire, Thomas Styrke in another interesting spelling, appears in the first Poll Tax rolls of the county in 1379. More recent recordings taken from surviving church registers in the city of London include Robert Stirke at St James Clerkenwell in 1742, and Benjamin Stirk who married Ann Gorsuch at St George's Chapel, Mayfair, in 1746.
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