This is an English surname but arguably of Norse Viking origins. It derives from the 8th century words "geit heirde" and as such was an occupational surname for a goat herd or goat keeper. The development is from geit through the later English medieval word gayte to the compound word gaythirde, with one of the earliest recordings being that of John Le Gaythirde, in the Subsidy Rolls of the county of Yorkshire in the year 1301, whilst later in 1468 in the same county we have the recording of Robert Gayterd. There are several post medieval spelling form including Gaiter, Gather, Gayter, Gaytor, Gaythor, Gaither and Geator, and one of the first recorded names into the colony of Virginia was John Gather who was recorded as "living at James Cittie, Virginea on February 16th 1623". The muster of the inhabitants of Mulbury lland, Virginea, (as spelt) and taken in January 1624 also recorded a John Gatter, who arrived in the colony in 1620 on the ship "George". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Michael Le Geytere. This was dated 1279, in the "Hundred Rolls" of the county of Huntingdon, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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