This long-established surname may be either topographical for someone who lived by the south gate of a walled medieval town, or locational from a place in Middlesex thus called. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "suth" meaning "south", plus "geat", broadly translating as "gate", but in the case of the Middlesex place referring specifically to a gate leading to a forest. The village was situated near the southern entrance to a large medieval enclosed forest. The surname is first recorded towards the end of the 12th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Alice de Southgate, who appeared in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk, and Roger de Southgate, who was rector of Swainsthorp, in Norfolk, in 1349. Recordings from London Church Registers include the marriage of Anne Southgate and Richard Renalds on July 5th 1668, at All Hallow's Church, London Wall. An interesting namebearer, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", was the anthologist Henry Southgate (1818 - 1888), whose most notable collection of quotations was "Many thought of many Minds" (1857). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osbert de Sudgate, which was dated 1197, in the "Pipe Rolls of Essex", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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