Recorded as Gaitskell, Gaitskill, Gateskell, Gaskell, Gaskill, Gatesill and Gateshill, this interesting surname is English. It is of medieval locational origin from a place in Cumberland called Gatesgill. The placename is recorded as Geytescales in the 1273, Close Rolls and derives its name from the Old Norse elements "geit" meaning a goat and "skali" a shelter; hence "shelter for goats". The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 14th Century, (see below). Such locational names were given to inhabitants who moved either voluntarily or otherwise from their place or village or origin.The further away one moved the more the spelling was transposed. Early examples of recordings of the surname from surviving church registers include; Robert, son of Edward Gadkell, christened on July 4th 1548, at Kirkham; Margaret Gaskell who married William Higginson on August 31st 1561, also at Kirkham, and on October 10th 1585, Ann Gatesill married Henry Aston at St James Clerkenwell in the city of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Benjamin de Gaytscale. This was dated 1332, in the Subsidy Rolls of Lancashire, during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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