This ancient surname is of English origins but is perhaps more properly associated with Wales. It is a patronymic and derives from the nickname form of the Germanic Walter plus the suffix 'kin', implying son of, or at least a close relationship. Recorded in the spellings of Watkin, Watkins, this being a short form of Watkinson, and Gwatkins, the latter being a dilaectal fusing especially associated with the English-Welsh border counties, the given name of Walter derives from the Old German "Waldhar", meaning "people-rule".The name was very popular with the Normans, who popularised it in England after the Conquest of 1066. Watkin first appears as a personal name in 1252, as 'Watkin, son of Henry Balistarius - Wardrobe Account'. As a surname it is first recorded in the early 14th Century and early recordings have included John Watkyns in the subsidy roills of Suffolk in 1327, and John Wattkyn of Sheffield, Yorkshire, in the year 1553. Other recordings taken from the church registers include the christening of Anne Watleinnes on May 21st 1557, at St. Peter's, Cornhill, and John Gwatkin, who married Margery Woodward at Ledbury, Herefordshire, on January 20th 1566. Gifford Watkins and Catharin Robinson were married on April 23rd 1582, at St. Peter le Poer, London, and Richard Gwatkin was a witness at Welington, Herefordshire on May 20th 1595. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Watkyns, which was dated 1327, in the "Pipe Rolls of Suffolk", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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