This is a very unusual and rare English surname. Recorded as Gatfield, Gatefiled, and Gatfeild, it is apparently locational from some now "lost" medieval place, probably called either Geat-feld meaning the road through the open country cleared for agriculture, or the more simple Gat-feld, meaning the goat farm or similar. The latter can be seen in the appropriately named modern town and airfield called Gatwick, which means the goat dairy farm. However no such place as Gatfield is to be found on any of the known gazetters, which strongly suggests that it is one of the three thousand and more medieval sites which are known to have disappeared in the past five hundred years through such varied causes as the great plagues such as the Black death of 1348 which killed off a quarter of the population, the equally vile Bubonic Plague of 1665 which had similar effects or the Enclosure Acts of the 17th abnd 18th centuries by which the landlords were empowered to fence off the common lands mainly for sheep farming. As a result the tenants had little choice but to leave for the cities. In this case an early example of the surname is that of William Gatfield who married Joyce Laywood at St Gregory's by St Pauls, in the city of London on March 23rd 1635.
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