This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and may be either an occupational name for a watchman, or a nickname for someone who was particularly keen and vigilant. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "wacor" (Middle English "waker"), the watchful or vigilant one. It is interesting to note that the Olde English personal byname "Waca", cognate with the Old Norse "vakr", meant "vigilant, alert", and is found as the initial element in the placename Wakefield, near Stony Stratford, Northamptonshire, recorded as "Wacafeld" in the Domesday Book of 1086.The surname Waker first appears on record in the early part of the 13th Century (see below). Job descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. Nicknames were given with reference to a variety of personal characteristics, such as physical attributes, mental and moral characteristics, and to habits of dress and occupation. Richard le Waker, noted in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, may have been employed as a night-watchman. Sarah Waker, an early emigrant to the New World, was recorded on a Census of St. Michael's parish, the Barbados, in 1680. A Coat of Arms granted to the Waker family is a shield divided palewise in three, red, blue and silver, the blue is charged with three red demi roses, cojoined with three silver demi fleur-de-lis, two and one, in chief a gold ducal coronet. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Waker, which was dated 1230, in the "Pipe Rolls of Berkshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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