Wakes History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
The ancient Norman culture that was established in England after the Conquest of 1066 produced the name of Wakes. It was given to a watchful or vigilant person having derived from the Old Norse word vakr, meaning watchful. 
A broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, nickname surnames referred to a characteristic of the first person who used the name. They can describe the bearer's favored style of clothing, appearance, habits, or character. There is however, much discrepancy over the origin of the name. One source claims the name originates with Hugh Wac, lord of Wilesford, Lincolnshire. Another claims the name originated with Hereward le Wake (fl. 1070-1071) during the time of Edward the Confessor. Apparently, an outlaw, there are "a few references to him in the chronicles and an account of his possessions in Domesday are all that we really know of him. But his exploits in defending Ely from the Normans caused the generation succeeding his own to regard him as the popular hero of the English resistance to their French conquerors." 
"It thus seems clear, that the first authentic appearance of the name of Wake in the descendants of Hereward was through an intermarriage with a Norman family nearly one hundred years after his death." 
Archbishop Wake disowned the Norman ancestry thinking the name was originally Le Wake, or the Watchful, a skilled military commander. 
And another source claims that the individual by the name of Wake recorded in the Roll of Battle Abbey was weary of Harold's rule and fled to Normandy and while there "invited" Duke William to conquer Britain. Lord Wake who died in 1156, was founder of the Abbey of Brun and was claimed descent from Sir Thomas Wake, a gallant knight who fought with the Black Prince. He was sheriff of Northamptonshire under Edward II for many years. 
Early Origins of the Wakes family
The surname Wakes was first found in Lincolnshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the manor of Wilsford (Wivelesforde) and under tenants of Godfrey de Cambrai, and represented by Le Sire de Wake. Hugo Wach was listed there in the Pipe Rolls of 1176. 
"The Wakes are mentioned by Brompton as in the immediate train of the Conqueror; but it is the opinion of antiquaries that the individual of the name of Wake recorded in the Roll of Battle Abbey, was one of those who being weary of Harold's rule, fled into Normandy, and invited Duke William; hence the family is supposed to have been of importance prior in the Conquest." 
Other early records include Baldwin Wake, Lord Wake, (died 1282), as a famous warrior and progenitor of the following early line of nobles: John Wake (died 1300), 1st Baron Wake of Liddell and his son Thomas Wake (1297-1349), 2nd Baron Wake of Liddell, an English baron; and daughter Margaret Wake (c. 1297-1349), wife of Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent. This line belonged to the Lincolnshire family which also had lands in Cumberland.
In Yorkshire, one of the first records was that of William le Wacce who was a Knights Templar in 1185. 
"Baynard's Castle, in the East Riding [of Yorkshire], was among the multifarious possessions of the Wakes; and there is a local tradition that it was burnt down by the owner on the very night that he had received intimation of the coming of Henry VII. The King, who was then at Hull, signified his intention of paying him a visit and Wake, who had a remarkably handsome wife, and was unable to decline the proffered honour, preferred the loss of his house to the risk of the King's admiration." 
Early History of the Wakes family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wakes research. Another 165 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1070, 1071, 1073, 1086, 1349, 1580, 1632, 1657, 1716 and 1737 are included under the topic Early Wakes History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Wakes Spelling Variations
Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Wake, Waik, Wayke and others.
Early Notables of the Wakes family
Another 42 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wakes Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Wakes family
Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Wakes or a variant listed above: John Wake, who settled in Jamaica in 1690; William Wake settled in Barbados in 1697.
The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.
Motto: Vigila et Ora
Motto Translation: Watch and Pray
- Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
- Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
- Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
- Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.