Recorded as Gascard, Gascarth, Gascart, Gaskarth, Gatescarthe, Gaskerth, Gaskirth, and probably others, this is an English surname. It is locational from a place in Cumbria near the village of Buttermore called Gatesgarth. The place name derives from the pre 7th century Norse word "geit", meaning a goat, and "garthr", a piece of enclosed ground used as a yard or paddock. The surname is particularly well recorded in Cumbrian church registers from the mid 16th century, (see below). This is perhaps surprising as usually with locational surnames, people tended to leave their original areas completely. These early recordings include Elizabeth Gaskarth, who was christened at Crosthwaite, Cumberland, on January 4th 1573. The name is also recorded in the register of the wills of persons from Lancashire and Cheshire, but kept at Richmond in Yorkshire, for the years 1609 and 1616. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Margareta Gaskerthe. She married Johnes Grave, at Crosthwaite, Cumbria, on July 9th 1563, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st of England and known to history as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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