Recorded in several spellings including Gwatkin, Watkin, Gwatkins, Watkins, Watkis, Watkiss, Wattin, Wattins and others, this ancient surname was originally English. Over the centuries it has undergone many changes, and today as Gwatkins and Watkins is more associated with Wales, and as Watkinson with Scotland. As Gwatkin, Watkin and Wattin, it is a diminutive but otherwise a patronymic. However spelt it derives from the pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon and Germanic personal name Walter from Waldhar, meaning "people-rule". The name was very popular with the Normans, who introduced it into tjhe British Isles after the famous Conquest of England in 1066. Watkin first appears as a personal name, an example being Watkin, the son of Henry Balistariust', in the domestic register of King Henry 111rd (1216 - 1272) . As a surname it is first recorded in the 14th century, and these early recordings include John Watkyns in the subsidy rolls 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, John Gwatkin, who married Margery Woodward at Ledbury, Herefordshire, on January 20th 1566 and Eliza Watkiss who married Thomas Banning at Allhallows church in the city of London, on February 6th 1676. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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