During the Middle Ages surnames were first used in order to distinguish between numbers of people bearing the same christian name. As taxation, under William The Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066, became the law, documentation became essential, and names were chosen from a man's trade, his father's name, some personal physical characteristic, or from his place of residence. In the case of the name WARK it was a locational name from a place so called in Northumberland, near Bellingham. The name was derived from the Old English word GEWEORC, literally meaning the dweller at or near the fortified area. The earliest of the name on record appears to be WERKE (without surname) who was recorded in Northumberland in the year 1279, and WERCH (without surname) was documented in Cheshire in 1294. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. Later instances of the name mention Richard de WERK, who was the Freeman of York in 1349, and Edwin WARKE of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe. The name was in Scotland at an early date and John of WERK was granted a safe conduct to travel into England in 1424. Robert WARK was declared a fugitive from justice in the year 1686.
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