This interesting German surname has two possible origins. Firstly, it may derive from the Olde High German "ecka", Middle High German "ecke", meaning edge or corner and would have been a topographical name for someone living at a corner. This could have been the corner of two streets in a town, or the corner of a field or area of land. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. Secondly, the surname may be a pet form of any of the various Germanic compound personal names with a first element "agi(n)" or "agil" meaning an edge or point of a weapon, e.g., Eckhardt, Eggebrecht, and Egiloff. The surname first appears in the latter half of the 16th Century (see below). In the modern idiom, the surname has many variant spellings including Eckh, Ech, Eake, Eke, etc.. John, son of John and Ann Eck, was christened at the church of St. Mary Whitechapel, London, in April 1787. There are no less that fifteen Coats of Arms granted to this illustrious family. One of the earliest, recorded heraldically in Rietstap's "Armorial General", depicts a red lion rampant on a gold field. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Dinggell Ecke, who was a witness at a christening which was dated September 1st 1568, at the Church of St. Botolph without Aldgate, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.