This unusual surname, chiefly recorded in the Cornish parish of St. Sampson or Golant, and in Exeter, Devonshire, is of early medieval English origin, and is one of a rare group of surnames surviving classes as "metronymics" where the original source is the name of the first bearer's mother, as distinct from the more widespread patronymic where derivation is through the male line. Since European society has almost invariably been patriarchal throughout history, it has naturally been the given name of the male head of the household that has been handed on as a distinguishing name to successive generations. In this instance, Gatty derives from "Gattie" or "Gatty", medieval pet forms of the female given name Gertrude, peculiar to England. The ultimate origin of Gertrude is an ancient Germanic personal name meaning "spear-strength", or possibly "spear-wizard", first borne, it would seem, by one of the Valkyries-Norse godesses who conducted the slain heroes from the battlefield to Valhall, the place of bliss. The surname is now variously spelt: Galtrie, Gat(t)y, Gattey and Gattee. On October 5th 1573, Thomas Gatty and Elizabeth Couch were married at St. Sampson or Golant, Cornwall, and on April 1st 1585, William Gatty was christened in the same parish. The christening of one Elizabeth Gatty took place at Exeter, Devonshire, on April 24th 1687. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Gatty, which was dated September 2nd 1568, a christening witness, at St. Sampson or Golant, Cornwall, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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