This unusual name is a peculiarly Northern English variant of the early medieval surname 'Gates', which has three possible derivations. The first is from the medieval English 'gate' meaning a road or thoroughfare, itself deriving from the Old Norse 'gata'. The name may be interpreted as 'one dwelling by a gate'. The second possibility is that the name derives from the medieval English 'gayte' meaning a goat, which suggests that Gate or Gates was an occupational name for a goatherd. A final suggestion is that the name comes from the Old French 'waite' or 'gaite' which translates as 'a watchman', also an occupational name. One Thomas Gatiss was christened at Bamburgh, in Northumberland on June 8th 1673, and the marriage of Richard Gatiss and Margaret Harrison was recorded at Easington, in County Durham, on December 31st 1752. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph de Gates, which was dated 1206, The Pipe Rolls of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King John, known as 'Lackland', 1199 - 1216. 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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