This interesting and unusual name derives in the first instance from an Old German personal name, 'Fulco' or 'Folco', translating as 'people', and found as a given name in itself or as a short form of various Germanic names with the first element 'folk'. This was in existence in England before the Norman Conquest, and was re-introduced and spread by the Normans after 1066 in the Old French forms 'Fulco' and 'Foughes'. The personal name is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Folco' and 'Fulco', and the development included: Fuke (1166), Fulk (1177), Fouke (125) and Folkes (1279). The modern surname from this source has at least twenty-five variant forms, ranging from Folk, Folke(s), Foulk(e)s, Fulk and Fulk(e)s to Fewkes, Foakes, Fooks, Foukx, Fowke(s) and Fuke, while the typical southern counties forms, replacing 'f' with 'v', are Voak, Vokes, Volk(e) and Volk(e)s. The christening of Robert Voak was recorded at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, in London, on September 23rd 1722. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Peter Fulch, which was dated 1198, The Feet of Fines for Somersetshire, during the reign of King Richard 1, 'The Lionheart', 1189-1199. 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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