Moakes History


I have come across several theories so far about the origin of the name MOAKES.

One theory which is favoured by the Oxford Dictionary of Surnames is that the name is patronymic i.e. belonging to that category of surnames derived from the forename of the original bearerís father. In this instance, the surname Mokes signifies "the son or descendent of Mocca" being derived from the old English personal name Mocca or Mocc which is of uncertain origin.

The other theory about the origin of the surname Moakes is that it is a variant of the name Moakler. Moakler was derived from the old French "mauclerc" meaning bad cleric, or one who had been defrocked. Hereditary surnames were imported from France to England during the Norman conquest in 1066 and there was a constant migration from France and the Lowlands to Britain up to the year 1500.

It is also possible to suggest that certain bearers of the name in the English border counties with Wales may owe their origin to the place name Moccas located in Herefordshire, being derived from the Welsh for "swine moor". Thus the name may signify "one who lived by or near the moor where the swine were grazed". However, one should note that there weren't many incidents of the name in this area.

One of the earliest records of the name occurs in Leicestershire in 1207 where a Walter Moakes is mentioned. Other early references include the mention of Mokke, recorded in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296, and one Ralph Moke appears in the Assize Rolls of Somerset in 1243. In the Yorkshire poll tax of 1379 an Edwin Mokes is listed. Robert Mok is mentioned in the register for the Freemen of the City of York in 1331 and Richard Mokke is mentioned in the Feet of Fines for Essex in 1401.

I have now drawn up some distribution charts starting in the 16th century. These were constructed using the IGI entries, the BVRIs, some Parish register entries I have, some burials and the GRO indexes. When using the IGI and BVRI entries I have tried to eradicate all duplicates and have also removed as many "convenience" entries as possible. By convenience entries I mean all those entries which were patron submissions and based on certain assumptions - that for all marriages the groom was 25 years old and the bride was 21 years old. Further to this the assumption is always that the marriage occurred exactly one year before the first registered baptism of a child to this couple! It is obvious that if people base their research on these naïve assumptions then the tree will very quickly become a fabrication - something which is seen in most of the Ancestral Files from the LDS. One example of this is that the earliest IGI submission on line is for the birth of a Samuel Moakes in Derbyshire in 1550. Closer examination shows that the earliest record of this family is for the baptism of William Moakes in 1576, son of Samuel. As usual someone has said that as William was born in 1576 then his father married in 1575 (of course 25 years old) and therefore Samuel was born in 1550! I hope that I have managed to express my contempt for this type of fabricated record and that you will understand why I have not included them in my distribution charts. Entries one should always be suspicious of are ones that say <of Normanton> (for example), rather than <Normanton>, or any event where the date is <about>. There is no way that the charts can be accurate - not all the parish records have been submitted, many have been lost or are only fragmented but I hope that the charts will give a pretty fair idea of when and where the Moakes started showing up and how the distribution looked from the 16th century until today.

Distribution of Moakes 1566-1899.

Global distribution of Moakes today.

Here is a link to my own South London Moakes family history