During the Middle Ages surnames were first used in order to distinguish between numbers of people bearing the same Christian name. As taxation, under William The Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066, became the law, documentation became essential, and names were chosen from a man's trade, his father's name, some personal physical characteristic, or from his place of residence. In the case of the name GATTON it was a locational name from Gatton a small place in County Surrey. The name was originally rendered in the Old English form GATETUNA, literally meaning the dweller at the place where goats were kept. The earliest of the name on record appears to be GATONE (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. Later records of the name include Hamo de GATTUNE, who was documented in 1273, County Kent, and Robert de GATTON appears in Sussex in 1279. Alicia de GATTON of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe. Later instances of the name mention Thomas Gill and Elizabeth GATTON, who were married in London in 1591 (no church given), and Francis GATTON and Susanna Smith were wed at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1669.
When the first immigrants from Europe went to America, the only names current in the new land were Indian names which did not appeal to Europeans vocally, and the Indian names did not influence the surnames or Christian names already possessed by the immigrants. Mostly the immigrant could not read or write and had little or no knowledge as to the proper spelling, and their names suffered at the hands of the government officials. The early town records are full of these misspelled names most of which gradually changed back to a more conventional spelling as education progressed.
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