This name is of early medieval English origin, and derives in the first instance from the medieval personal name "Wilk", a form of diminutive from "Wilkin", another given name which is itself a "pet" form of "Will", from "William", with the English diminutive suffix "kin". "William" as a male personal name was introduced into England by the Normans at the time of the Conquest of 1066, in the forms "Guillaume" and "Guillerme", and rapidly became the most popular given name in England, mainly no doubt in honour of the Conqueror himself. The name is Germanic in origin as "Wilhelm", composed of the elements "Wil", will, desire and "helm", helmet, protection. The modern surnames "Wilkes" and "Wilks" are the patronymic forms, meaning "son of Wilk". Recordings from London Church Registers include the marriage of Thomas Wilkes and Alice Clercke, on November 15th 1540, at St. Lawrence Jewry and St. Mary Magdelene, Milk Street and the marriage of John Wilkes and Elyzabethe Wynsor, on September 13th 1548, at Christchurch, Greyfriars, Newgate. Sir Thomas Wilkes (1545 - 1598) was a successful diplomatist for Queen Elizabeth 1, and M.P. for Southampton in 1588 - 1593. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Wilkys, which was dated 1327, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire", 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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