Recorded in various spellings as shown below this is an English surname, but one ultimately of Norse-Viking 8th century origins. It derives from the word "geit" meaning a goat, through the later medieval English "gayte". It described a goatherd as in John Le Gaythirde recorded in Yorkshire in 1301 and Robert Gayterd in the same county in 1466. The post medieval surname spellings include Gait, Gatt, Gaiter, Gayter, Gaytor, Gaythor, Gaither and Geator. One of the first recorded surnames in the new colony of Virginia was John Gather, who was recorded as "living at James Cittie", on February 16th 1623. Quite a few of the inhabitants are recorded as "dead" presumably to make up the figures a bit for the authorities back home in England, to prove that they had actually been there, and not lost at sea. The muster of the inhabitants of "Mulbury lland" as spelt, also Virginia and taken in January 1624 recorded a John Gatter. He apparently arrived in 1620 on the ship George of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Michael Le Geytere. This was dated 1279, in the Hundred Rolls of Huntingdon during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, and known as "The Hammer of the Scots" 1272 - 1307. 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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