This very unusual and interesting name is of early medieval English origin, and is a peculiarly Yorkshire nickname surname for someone thought to be clumsy and awkward. The name derives from the Yorkshire dialectal term "gawk", used of a clumsy, simple person, with "Roger", used as a representative male personal name, although the original surname may have been bestowed on one "Roger" because of a particular incident that has not been recorded. An April Fool is an April "Gowk" in Yorkshire. A sizeable group of early European surname were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These were given in the first instance with reference to occupation, or to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress. The surname was first recorded in the mid 16th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Jon Gawkrycher (1553, Yorkshire), and Daniel Corkroger (1685, ibid.). In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Gaukroger, Gawkroge, Gaukrodge and Gawkrodger. Recordings from Yorkshire Church Registers include: the marriage of Elizabeth Gaukroger and Edmund Wells in October 1554, at Halifax; the christening of Gracia, daughter of Rici Gaukroger, on March 19th 1574, at Elland; and the christening of John, son of Samuel Gaukroger, on November 18th 1593, at Halifax. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Rauffe Gawkeroger, which was dated 1539, in the "Registers of the Parish of Rothwell", Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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