Recorded in several spellings including Gall, Gaw, Gow, and patronymics Gawson, Ganson, Gaunson, Gauson, Gowson, this interesting surname has two possible derivations. Firstly it may be Scottish and derive from the Old Gaelic word "gall", meaning a stranger. In the Highlands of Scotland, the term was applied to people from the English-speaking Lowlands, whilst in Ireland it was given to settlers who arrived from Wales and England in the aftermath of the Anglo-Norman invasion. The surname is also found early in Lincolnshire, where it is of Breton origin, being introduced there by Norman settlers. Secondly, however, the name may derive from a given name derived from the Latin word gallus", meaning a cockerell. Its popularity was due to the fame of a 7th century Irish monk called St. Gall. He established a Christian settlement to the south of Lake Constance, and the name was taken in Czechoslovakia as Havel, and into Poland as Gawel. Early examples of the surname include Adam Galle (of Warwickshire, in 1221, William Gaw of Perthshire in Scotland in 1397, and Alexander Gawensone on Nairn in 1563. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Galle. This was dated 1170, in the transcripts of charters relating to the Gilbertine Houses, of Lincolnshire. This was during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, 1154 -1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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