This interesting surname is of Old Norse origin, and is a locational name from either of two places thus called in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Gawthope near Dewsbury is recorded as "Goukethorpe" in the 1274 Wakefield Court Rolls, and Gawthorpe near Huddersfield is recorded as "Goutthorp" in the 1297 Subsidy Rolls. The derivation of the placename is from the Old Norse "gaukr", cuckoo, and "thorp", enclosure, hamlet, village; hence, "village where cuckoo's frequented". During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings ranging from Gawthrope, Gowthrop and Gawthrop, to Gawthorp, Gawthorpe and Gowthorpe. Recordings of the surname from Yorkshire Church Registers include: the marriage of Beatrice Gawthorpe and Henry Leigh, which took place at Howden, on May 10th 1572; the marriage of Richard Gawthorpe and Elizabeth Holroyd, which took place on February 14th 1573, at Halifax; and the christening of Robert, son of Thomas Gawthorpe, on August 28th 1580, at Aberford. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jane Galthorpe, which was dated August 15th 1540, marriage to Roger Belman, at Rotherham, Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Good 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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