This interesting surname of English origin is either a metonymic occupational name for a goatherd, that is someone who owns or looks after a herd of goats, or a nickname for a strong willed person, deriving from the old English pre 7th Century "Gad" meaning goat. The surname is first recorded in the early half of the fourteenth Century (see below). One, John le Gotere is registered in Hampshire (1333). Other early recordings of the surname from the church registers of Hampshire include; Richard Goater, who married Alice Shall, on August 22nd 1576, at Brading; on August 29th 1604, John son of John Goater, was christened in Romsey; Thomas Goater married Thomazen Carter, on June 10th 1605, in the same place; and on July 21st 1608, Agnes Goater married William Lane, also found as Goatman and Gater. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas le Goter, Oxfordshire, which was dated 1327, in the "Middle English Occupational Terms", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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