Recorded as Garthwaite, Garthwait, Garthwelt, Garthwitt, Gathwaite, Gaithwaite, Gaythwaite, Guthwaite, and probably others, this is an English medieval locational surname. It originates from a lost village called Garthwaite, believed to have been in Yorkshire or at least on the Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Cumbria borders, where the largest group of recordings are to be found. However locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homesteads for whatever reason, to move somewhere else. That could be close by, but more usually was some distance off, and hence the name was given as easy identification of a stranger. The derivation is from the pre 7th century Olde English 'gearth' meaning an enclosure, and the Scandanavian 'pveit', meaning a meadow, in fact the two elements of the name probably mean the same thing. Lost medieval villages are a feature of the landscape of the British Isles. Many remain to be discovered, but the estimates are that some seven thousand villages have disappeared, and they gave rise to some three thousand surnames, of which this would appear to be an example. Early examples of church recordings include William Gaithwaite at Penrith, on October 20th 1588, when he married Grace Smyth, George Garethwaite at Sedbergh on April 27th 1606, Hannah Garthwaite christened at Middleton Tyas, Yorkshire, on November 13th 1766, and Miles Gaythwaite at Cleator, Cumbria, on November 27th 1842..
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