This German surname of FIKES was a baptismal name 'the son of Fulk' a popular font name during the 12th and 13th century, and it lingered as a baptismal name until the 17th century. The name is also spelt FULK, FOWKE, FULKS and FIKS. The first hereditary surnames on German soil are found in the second half of the 12th century, slightly later than in England and France. However, it was not until the 16th century that they became stabilized. The practice of adopting hereditary surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northwards during the Middle Ages. Following the crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. Early records of the name in England include mention Robert Fuke, 1209, County Somerset. Fowke de Coudrey, was recorded in the year 1273, in the County of Buckinghamshire. Johannes Fowke of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Fowke Owen registered at the Oxford University in the year of 1567. Fowke Dutton of Chester (draper) was listed in the Wills at Chester in the year 1558. Mr Fowke Drake was the parson of Fyfeilde, Broad Chalk, County Wiltshire. A later record of the name is Captain Francis Fowke (1823-65), an Anglo-Irish engineer and architect, designer of the original plans for several major museums in Britain. He was born in Belfast and planned such places as the Albert Hall, London. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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