This surname of GATELY is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic Mac Athlaoich, from the byname Athlaoch, meaning 'ex-warrior' composed of the elements Ath (former) and loach (warrior or hero). The Irish prefixes of Mac (son of) and O (grandson or descendant of) gave rise at an early date, to a set of fixed hereditary names in which the literal patronymic meaning was lost or obscured. These surnames originally signified membership of a clan, but with the passage of time, the clan system became less distinct, and surnames came to identify membership of what is called a 'sept' of people all living in the same locality, all bearing the same surname, but not necessarily descended from a common ancestor. Adoption of the name by people who did not otherwise have a surname and by their dependents was not uncommon. Later, nicknames were in some cases to supersede the original clan names. There is also a place in England of the name Gateley, a small parish in County Norfolk, near Fakenham. Johannes de Gaythele was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379, and appears to be the earliest of the name on record. Geoffrey Gatleye appear in Lancashire in 1453. Habitation names, which are by far the largest group, usually denoted where the original bearer of the name held his land, and where he actually lived. These local surnames derive (with a few occasional exceptions) from English, Scottish or French places, and were originally preceded by a preposition such as 'atte' or 'bye'. The earliest local surnames of French origin are chiefly from Normandy, particularly from the departments of Calvados, Eure, Seine-Inferieure and La Manche, although some Frenchmen, arriving in England early acquired surnames from English places. Local names may derive from the manor held, the place of residence, and occasionally from a sign like an Inn or Tavern, or a particularly unusual shape of rock, hill, tree, stream or river. The lion is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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