Recorded as Gavan, Gaven, but more usually Gavin, this is an English, Welsh, and sometimes Irish surname. If English or Welsh it derives from the pre 5th century Celtic personal name Gawaine, itself a derivation of the original Gwalchmai, a personal compound translating as "The Battle Hawk" but also the name of a village on the Isle of Anglesey. The most famous association of the name is with Sir Gawaine. He was one of the most famous knights of the round table at the court of the British or Breton King Arthur, and who, according to legend, in about the year 590 a.d. slew the giant "Rhyence". The name in Ireland is often from the far west and Counties Cork and Tipperary, is also usually found as Gavan or Gavin. It may have English and Welsh origins or may derive from a quite different sopurce being the medieval Gaelic O' Gabhain. This may translate as "The male descendant of the one who wants", although this is disputed and not proven. Walter O' Gawane was recorded in Clonmel in 1428, and this seems to be a fascinating fusion of both Gaelic and English/Welsh spelling. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Emma Gawyn. This was dated 1379, in the Poll Tax rolls of the county of Yorkshire during the reign of King Richard 11nd, (1378 - 1399) and known to history as "Richard of Bordeaux" where he was born. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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