Recorded as Goce, Goss, Gosse, Goose, and others, this is an English surname, but of Norman French origins. It has several possible origins including a derivation from a French personal name "Gosse", itself a short form of the name "Gocelin" with the first element meaning god or good. In England it is associated with the West Country, where there are numerous early recordings in Devon and Cornwall. These include John Gosse and Margaret Northcott married on September 1559 at St. Mary Arche's, Exeter, Devon, and the christening of Ann Goss on July 9th 1742 at Bodmin, Cornwall. However, it is also possible that the name may have originated as either an occupational name for a goose-herd or as a medieval nickname for a person with some fancied resemblance to the bird! The name development has included, Richard Goce of London in 1205, Hamo le Gous, of Cambridge in 1231, and Thomas Joce, in the Subsidy Tax rolls of Oxford in 1327. A notable bearer of the name was Sir John Goss (1800 - 1880), musical composer, and organist of St. Paul's Cathedral (1838 - 1872). In 1876, he received a doctorate of Music degree from Cambridge University, and composed many anthems, including one for Wellington's funeral. A coat of arms associated with the name has theblazon of a silver shield charged with nine red mullets in saltire, the crest being a falcon, wings expanded and inverted proper, ducally gorged gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo Gosse, which was dated 1202, in the Assize Rolls of Lincolnshire. This was during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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