This surname BACKES is of twofold origin both of the local group of names and means 'at the back' i.e. one who resided in a cottage lying behind some others or from the Old English BAECE, BECE, meaning a stream. In the middle ages it became customary for a man to be named after the village he came from, or from where he held his land. This name identified his whole family, and followed him wherever he moved. The name was also baptismal ' the son of Bagge or Bagg '. It occurs frequently in early records, and was probably brought into England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Early records of the name mention John atte Back of the County of Somerset in 1042-1066. Godwine Bace of the County of Somerset in 1055. Helias Bagge of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Walter Bagge was documented in County Somerset in the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Edward Back and Alice Fowler were married at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in 1754. The name has many variant spellings which include Bagg, Bagge, Baggs, and Backe. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Granted to William Back Esq., MD).
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