The Old English word 'stoc' meaning 'a place', has given birth to many surnames. These include Stock, Stoke, Stoak, and Stook, although in fact their plural forms are the usual spelling. Quite why the plurality developed is generally accepted as being dialectal, it being easier in pronunciation to add the final 's'. The confusion is further heightened by the fact that the earliest plural spellings often pre-date the base form, although again this is probably owing to a lack of recordings. In this case we have one of the earliest of all surnames, and these examples include Cnut de Stoch in the 1166 Derbyshire Pipe Rolls, William atte Stokkes in the 1310 Hertfordshire Rolls, and Rose atte Stock of Essex in 1315. As a place name 'Stoke' is found widely in Devon, Somerset, Derbyshire, etc. One of the earliest recorded Barons was William Stoc, who appears in the Knight Templar (Crusader) Rolls for Warwickshire in 1185. The later post medieval developed spellings include Thomas Stookes who married Alse Feild at St Brides Church, Fleet Street, London, on May 17th 1590, and William Stooke, the father of Deborah Stooke, a witness at her christening of March 4th 1653. This latter event is particularly interesting as it occurred during the period of 'The Commonwealth' after the execution of Charles 1st in 1649. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ricerus de Stokas, which was dated 1084, The Geld Roll (Domesday Book) for Somerset in 1084, during the reign of King William 1, known as 'The Conqueror', 1066 - 1087. 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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