This unusual early medieval English surname originated as a nickname for an old man who "gathered cold", and consequently weakness. Cold, not cole was originally the second element in the name, as the first recorded spelling suggest. Medieval physicians thought that an old man's blood became dry and cold - a state which lowered his defences and increased the risk of infection. The surname development since 1327 (see below) includes the following: Thomas Gadercold (1524, Suffolk); James Gathercoal (1597, Suffolk); and James Gathercole (1611, Suffolk). The name was corrupted to Gathercoal and Gathercole in the late 16th and early 17th Centuries, leading one to suspect that namebearers "gathered (char)coal" for a living. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the marriage of James Gathercole and Susan Morefielde on June 2nd 1611, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, and the marriage of Robert Gathercole and Susan Man on November 13th 1626, at St. Gregory by St. Paul. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Gaderecold, which was dated 1327, in the "Pipe Rolls of Suffolk", 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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