This surname 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. 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 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. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. 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.
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