This interesting and long-established surname is of early medieval English origin, and has three distinct possible interpretations. Firstly, Gadd may have originated as an occupational name for a driver of cattle, from the Middle English "gad", goad, spike, sting, ultimately from the Old Norse "gaddr". Job-descriptive surnames initially denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. Alternatively, Gadd may have been given as a nickname to a persistent and irritating person, deriving from the same source.The creation of surnames from nicknames was a widespread practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern-day surnames derive from medieval nicknames referring to physical peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, and to habits of dress and behaviour. Finally, in northern England, Gadd may in part represent a survival into the Middle English period of the Old Norse personal byname "Gaddr", "Sting". The earliest recordings of the surname come from Somerset, and include Mathew Gad, noted in the first year of Edward 111's reign. In 1379, one Thomas Gadd was entered in the Poll Tax Returns Records of Yorkshire, and on February 13th 1586, the marriage of Lawrence Gadd to Alice Armestrong took place at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Gad, which was dated 1327, in the "Exchequer Lay Subsidy Rolls of Somerset", 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 known as 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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