Recorded in many spelling forms including Gatman, Gateman, Gatesman, Gaitsman, Yateman, Yetman, and Yatman, this is an English surname. It probably derives from the pre 7th century word 'geat', which can mean either a gate, as in gate of a city, or it may mean the street, where Viking influence has been brought to bear. For instance in the ancient city of York, the streets are known as 'gates,' and the gates of the city are called 'bars'. The surname is usually topographical and according to where the original nameholder(s) were to be found, described one who was resident by the town gate. Where the suffix -man is used, this is clearly job descriptive for one in charge of the 'geat'. Whether this was a road or a gate, would depend on the circumstances. Secondly the name can be locational from the town of Yate, near Bristol, which does mean 'gate',whilst a third possibility is from the Olde English word 'gat' meaning a goat, and hence a surname for a goatherd. Early examples of the surname recordings include Elizabeth Yetman, who married John Watts at Marnhull, in the county of Dorset, on October 12th 1585, whilst Andrew Gateman married Anne Thorn at St James church, Dukes Place, Westminster, on June 21st 1681. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this sometimes 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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