This interesting surname is of English 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.Thus, in the modern idiom the name has five spelling variations; Gaitskell, Gaitskill, Gaskill, Gaskell and Gaskall. Early recordings of the surname from Lancashire church registers include; Robert, son of Edward Gadkell, was christened on July 4th 1548, in Kirkham; Margaret Gaskell married William Higginson on August 31st 1561, in the same place; and on October 10th 1585, An Gaskell married Henry Aston in Great Harwood. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Benjamin de Gaytscale, which 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 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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