This ancient English surname of GATH was a local name meaning 'one who dwelt at the garth' the yard or enclosure. The name is also spelt GARTH, GARTHE, GATHE and GARSIDE. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Beatrice del GARTHE of Yorkshire, who was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379 and Robert de GARCESSIDE was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Hereditary surnames were originally imported from France into England during the Norman Conquest of 1066. In the two centuries or so after the Conquest surnames were acquired by most families of major landholders, and many landed families of lesser importance. There appears to have been a constant trickle of migration into Britain between about the years 1200 and 150O, mostly from France and the Low Countries, with a small number of migrants from Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and the Iberian peninsular, and occasional individuals from further afield. During this period groups of aliens settled in this country as for example, the Germans who from the late 15th century onwards settled in Cumbria to work the metal mines. Immigration during this time had only a small effect on the body of surnames used in Britain. In many cases, the surnames of immigrants were thoroughly Anglicised. The late sixteenth century saw the arrival, mostly in London and the south-coast ports of large numbers of people fleeing from the war regions of France. Later instances of the name include James GATSYDE, who was recorded in the Subsidy Rolls of 1541. Alice GARSIDE of Oldham (widow) who was listed in the Wills at Chester in 1597, and John GARTSIDE of Saddleworth appears in the name Wills in 1597. 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.
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