This rare and fascinating surname is of Dutch origin, and is an occupational name for a picker of Oakum, which involved the untwisting of old rope, for use in the caulking of the seams of wooden ships, a process finished with boiling pitch or tar, to prevent leakage. The derivation is from the Dutch word "werk", meaning oakum, and would perhaps have been given to a Dutch seaman and introduced into England during the course of his travels. Dutch traders, regularly visited the eastern counties of England, especially Norfolk and Suffolk. Among the recordings in the Netherlands, is the marriage between Gerrit de Werk and Jantje Bakema on July 11th 1857, at Burgerlijke Stand, Leewarden, Friesland. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Maria de Werk, which was dated March 14th 1825, Gouda, Zuid, Holland, during the reign of The Prince of Orange of Holland, 1813 - 1884. 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.