This interesting name is of early medieval English origin, and is derived from an occupational surname for a watchman, from the Middle English "wake", watch vigil (a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century "wacu"), with "man", man, from the Olde English "mann". The chief magistrate of the borough of Ripon, in Yorkshire, was entitled "Wakeman" until 1604, when the title was changed to "Mayor". This official was in charge of the body of wakemen whose duty it was to blow a cow's horn every night at nine o'clock. If between then and sunrise any burglary took place, it was made good at the public charge. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and gradually became hereditary. Early examples of the surname from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Elizabeth Wakman and John Andrew on March 31st 1589, in Bermondsey, and the marriage of Edward Wakeman and Katherine Test at St. Gregory by St. Paul, on December 17th 1624. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name depicts an ermine saltire wavy on a green shield, the Crest being a lion's head erased, gold, vomiting flames of fire proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Wakeman, which was dated 1200, in the "Cartulary of Oseney Abbey", Oxfordshire, during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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