Recorded in various spelings including Gopsall, Gopsell and Gopsill, this is an English locational surname. It originates from the "diminished" village of Gopsall in the county of Leicestershire. This surname is a classic case of the use of a locational surname. For whatever reason the village, which was first recorded in the 12th century, had reduced to such an extent that by this century almost all its population which may have numbered several hundred in medieval times, had left, and there were only fourteen left in 1955! The causes were either events such as the infamous plagues of the 14th to 17th century, which virtually wiped out many communities, but more lilely in this case, changes in agricultural practise, from arable requiring many workers, to pastoral, and mainly sheep, which required very few.In consequence tenants were forced away from the village and in so doing took or were given as their surnames, the name of their former home. Spelling over the centuries being at best indifferent, and local accents very thick, often lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings. Perhaps not surprisingly the surname does not seem to be recorded at all in the early rolls of Leicestershire, but is widely recorded in the diocese of Greater London. Examples of these recordings include Thomas Gopsell who was christened at St Olaves church, Eastcheap, on February 4th 1644, and John Gopsill, who was christened at Devonshire House, Westminster, on August 28th 1699.
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