This interesting surname is English, but of pre 8th century Danish-Viking origin. It is locational, and may be from a number of possible villages. These are Gowthorpe near Pocklington in East Yorkshire, recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Gheutorp', Gawthope near Dewsbury, Gawthorpe near Huddersfield, both West Yorkshire, and Gawthrop near Sedburgh, in North Yorkshire. The derivation of the placename in all cases is believed to be from the early Scandanavian word 'gaukr, meaning a cuckoo, and 'torp', which may means a single farm or a settlement, and hence Cuckoo Farm or similar.Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homes to move somewhere else. Spelling being at best indifferent and local accents very thick, soon lead to the development of 'sounds like' surnames. In this case the spelling variations include Gawthrope, Gowthrop, Gawthrop, Gawthorp, Gawthorpe and Gowthorpe. Recordings of the surname from early surviving Yorkshire church registers include the marriage of Beatrice Gawthorpe and Henry Leigh, at Howden, East Yorkshire, on May 10th 1572; that of Ann Goethorp who married William Habbeshaw at Huggate, near Pocklington, East Yorkshire, on October 26th 1714, and George Gowthorpe, who was christened at Thornton by Pocklington, on May 8th 1732. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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