This interesting surname of early English origins, with the various spellings of Gater, Goater, Geater, Gayter, Gaitor, Gayther, Geator, and no doubt others as well, and has several possible origins. It may be tographical or locational, and as such it describes one who lived or worked by a 'geat'. This is not normally a gate, but a road or street, the development being from the Norse-Viking 'gata', however as the early recordings tend to come from the walled city of York, it may actually mean 'a gate'. The second possible origin is that the name derives as a metonymic occupational name for a goatherd, from the Olde English pre 7th century 'gat' meaning goat plus the suffix 'er' implying a worker or in this case 'herd'. Another possibility is as a nickname for a stubborn or strong willed person, but here again the origination is 'gat', so perhaps the two are the same. The surname is first recorded in the early half of the fourteenth Century (see below) whilst John le Gotere is registered in Hampshire in 1333 and Robert Gayterd in the 1466 Friary Rolls of Yorkshire. Other early recordings of the surname from the church registers include Richard Goater, who married Alice Shall, on August 22nd 1576, at Brading, whilst on August 29th 1604, John, the son of John Goater, was christened at Romsey. The coat of arms granted in London has the blazon of a gold field, charged with a fesse engrailed between three red cross crosslets fitchee. The crest is of a wolf sejant in gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Gater, which was dated 1301, in the Subsidy |Rolls of the city of York, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The hammer of the Scots, 1273 - 1307. 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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