This very interesting surname is of pre 9th century Anglo-Saxon origin. It is found recorded in most English counties, but is mainly associated with the West Country. Generally the origination is topographical and describes one who lived by a prominent 'geat' (gate), and probably the gate of a walled city or town. However the name can also be job descriptive for the keeper of the 'geat', or locational for one who came from a place called Yate. As the surname 'Gate, Gayte or Gates' is relatively common, and has the same meaning, Yate, Yates, Yeats, Yeates, and Yetts are dialectal, the original 'g' in 'geat' being pronounced as a 'y'. The name is first recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Charters of 779 as 'aet Gete', however this is purely descriptive and in no way a hereditary surname. These were much later, and date usually from the 11th century, and never before the Norman Conquest of 1066. The earliest true recordings as a surname include those of Philip del Yate in the piperolls of Cheshire for the year 1260, and Robert atte Yates in the Assize Rolls of Norfolk in 1344. Rather later examples are those of Edwarde Yates who married Jane Atkinson at Thirsk, Yorkshire, on September 13th 1583, Lawrence Yate of Nether Darwen, Cheshire in 1606, and John Yeats, who married Ann Davis at St Georges Chapel, Hanover Square, London in 1753. 'Mr Yates' is recorded in the records of 'Elizabeth Cittie, Virginea' in February 1624, making him one of the earliest settlers to the American Colonies. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hereward de Jette, which was dated 1198, in the "Pipe Rolls of Gloucestershire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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