Recorded in various spellings including Gartlan, Gartlen, Gartland, and Garthland, this is an Anglo-Scottish surname. It is best described as residential because it may relate either to a person who came from a village called Garthland, near Kilbimmie, in Scotland, or more as the name is more prominent in England, for somebody who lived at a 'garth-land' described as enclosed ground used as a yard or paddock. 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. In the early surviving records Willilmus del Garth was noted in the Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire in 1379, whilst on March 25th 1692, Mary Gartland and John Foot were married in Gatcombe, Hampshire, and on July 2nd 1797, Mary Gartlan married Francis House at St. Luke's Chelsea. The marriage of Bridget Gartland and Edward Holliwood took place in Paisley Abbey, Renfrewshire, on July 25th 1865. 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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