This is an interesting and unusual name of medieval English origin and is locational from a place so called in Simonburn, Northumberland and was earlier spelt Gofden. The derivation of the first element is unknown, but is possibly an Old English personal name, and the second element is the Old English pre 7th Century "denu", a valley. During the Middle Ages, when it was becoming increasingly common for people to migrate from their birth place to seek work elsewhere they would often adopt the placename as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. Amongst the sample recordings in Northumberland is one, Agnes Gofton who married Richard Atchenson on November 21st 1585 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Gofton (christening), which was dated April 21 1560, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 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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