This notable surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and may be either a topographical name from residence by a rivulet, or a locational name from Syke, a minor place in the Rochdale county borough of Lancashire. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "sic", rivulet, stream, water-course. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognizable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages.Locational names were originally given to those former inhabitants who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere, and were best identified by their former village name. Early examples of the surname include: Roger del Sik (Norfolk, 1212); Richard del Sikes (Yorkshire, 1309); and Richard in le Syche (Staffordshire, 1332). A notable bearer of the name was Sir Mark Masterman Sykes, third baronet (1771 - 1823) M.P., York, 1801 - 1820, and a book-collector of renown. His library contained several early manuscripts and specimens of 15th Century printing. A Coat of Arms granted to the Sykes family depicts a black chevron between three sykes or fountains on a silver shield, the Crest being a demi triton issuant from reeds, blowing a shell, and wreathed about the temple with like reeds all proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph de Sich, which was dated 1166, in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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