This unusual and interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname from a now 'lost' place thought to have been situated in Norfolk. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets have disappeared from the maps of Great Britain since the 11th Century, due in large part to the forced 'clearing' of villages for sheep pasture in the 14th Century, and to natural disasters such as the Black Death of 1348. The name 'Gillingwater' derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name 'Gylla' or 'Gythla', meaning either 'Great', member of a tribe so called, or a short form of a compound name with 'gyth', battle, as a first element with 'waeter', a stretch of water, so, 'Gylla's water'. John Gillingwater was christened on the 8th September 1651 at Blofield in Norfolk. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Gilingwater, married Alycie Dawlinge, which was dated 8th October 1580, St. Lawrence's, South Walsham, Norfolk, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Good Queen Bess, 1558 - 1603. 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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