Recorded in several spelling forms including Wrack, Wreak, and Wreaks, this is an English surname. It is topographical or locational and as such describes a person who lived 'by the wreaks', or who came from the village of Wreak in the county of Leicestershire. The name refers to a powerful or sometimes twisting river, one where the water action is violent. The word in this sense is a loan from the pre 7th century Norse-Viking word "vreida", used to indicate power or wrath. The village name is first recorded in the year 1237 as Wrethek and later in 1276 as Wreyke. The surname is first recorded in the county of Yorkshire in the Poll Tax rolls of 1379, when Adam de Wrekes is so recorded. The preposition de being still in use at that time, although a throwback to the Norman Conquest of 1066 and the introduction of French as the national language, indicates that there may also have been a place called Wrekes or similar, in Yorkshire. This said, locational surnames in general were usually 'from' names. That is to say surnames given to people after they left their original homes, to move somewhere else. This could even be the next village, but the even so the fashion was to call people by the name of the place from whence they came. A later example of the surname recording is that of Leonard Wreaks, a witness at St James church, Clekenwell, city of London, in the year 1739.
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