The surname of GOSTHORN was a locational name which was derived from the Old English word 'gosdenu' meaning the dweller in the goose-valley. Local names usually denoted where a man held land, and where he actually lived. The earliest local names are chiefly of French origin, brought to England with the Conqueror in 1066. The name was also used as an occupational name for a breeder of geese, and the name is found mainly in the East Anglia area. The names introduced into Britain by the Normans during the Invasion of 1066 were of three kinds. There were names of Norse origin which their ancestors had carried into Normandy; names of Germanic origin which the Frankish conquerors had brought across the Rhine and which had ousted the old Celtic and Latin names from France, and Biblical names and names of Latin and Greek saints. These names they retained even after the customs and language of the natives of Northern France had been adopted by them. After the Norman Conquest not only Normans, but Frenchmen and Bretons from other parts of France settled in England, and quite a few found their way north into Scotland. Early records of the name mention Thomas GOSTHORN Bouer who was recorded in the year 1319 in County Huntingdonshire and Thomas GOSDEN of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Robert GOSTHORN appears in County Norfolk in 1400. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.
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