This interesting and long-established surname may be either of early medieval English, or of Old Gaelic (Scottish and Irish) origin. If the former, Gault is a variant of the more familiar Galt, itself a nickname for a warrior who fought with the fierceness and tenacity of a wild boar, deriving from the Middle English "galte, gaute, gault", ultimately from the Old Norse "goltr", wild boar. Nicknames, such as this, were originally given with reference to a variety of personal characteristics including physical attributes; mental and moral qualities; habits of dress and behaviour; and supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition. In 1273, one Gilbert Galt was noted in the Hundred Rolls of Norfolk. As a Scottish surname, Gault is an accretionary form of Gaul, itself deriving from the Gaelic/Celtic term "gall", foreigner, stranger, and originally given as a nickname by the Scottish Highlanders to people from the English-speaking lowlands, and to Scandinavians. One John Gal and a William Galt were recorded in Perthshire in 1334 and 1367 respectively. When found in Ireland, and particularly in the province of Ulster, Gault may be either a Scottish Planter introduction, or a native Irish surname, originally denoting a settler from England or Wales who arrived in the wake of the Anglo-Norman Invasion, from "gall" (as above). William Gault, of Yarmouth, was an early settler in New England in May 1637. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godfrey Galt, which was dated 1198, in the "Feet of Fines of Norfolk", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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