This interesting surname, with variant spellings Gascoign(e), Gascoin(e), Gasquoine, Gaskain, Gasken, and Gasking, originated as a regional name for someone from the province of Gascony, written as "Gascogne" in Old French. The name of this region in South West France derives from that of the Basques who once occupied the area. First named in Roman sources as "Vascones", they were displaced from most of Gascony by the Middle Ages and were replaced by speakers of Gascon (a dialect of French). The surname first appears on record in England in the early 13th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Geoffrey Gascoyne (the Hundred Rolls of Norfolk, dated 1273); Peter Gascoying (Devonshire, 1274); and William Gascoigne, witness in the 1389 Fine Court Rolls of Huntingdonshire. Notable namebearers listed in the "Dictionary of National Biography" are Thomas Gascoigne D.D., Oriel College, Oxford, 1434; who was chancellor of the university from 1434 to 1444. His "Dictionarium Theologicum" is preserved at Lincoln College, also William Gascoigne (1612 - 1644), inventor of the micrometer, who was killed on the royalist side at Marston Moor. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Bernard Gascon, which was dated 1206, in the "Curia Regis Rolls of Northamptonshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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