This very unusual surname, one of the most interesting listed anywhere, is English. First recorded in the 13th century, and now found as Gotobed and Gotbed, over the seven centuries since its "creation" in early medieval times, it has undergone many changes. The meaning is uncertain. The late Professor Reaney, the acknowledged authority on English surnames, gives the meaning as "what it says". From this we deduce that he meant that beds were such rare things in ancient times, that to have one, was a matter of local comment to the point where the person concerned was named from this piece of furniture. Certainly early nicknames were bestowed for much less reason than this. However it also has to be said that the medieval period was renowned for its Chaucerian humour which was almost always direct, and often obscene. This might imply that the first known nameholder one John Gotobedde of Barnwell, Cambridge, in 1269, had other uses for his bed! The trouble with almost all nickname surnames, is that without actually being present when the name was given out, it is impossible to be absolutely certain of the true meaning. Other early recordings include William Gawtobedde of Sussex in 1332, and John Godbed of London, in 1760.
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