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Gaukroger Coat of Arms / Gaukroger Family Crest

The surname of GAUKROGER is a variant of GAWKRODGER, also spelt Gawkroger, Gaukrodger. A Yorkshire name meaning 'awkward or clumsy Roge', from the dialect. 'to gawk'. A Yorkshire name that has ramified strongly and is found in every local directory. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but most of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. Early records of the name mention Robertus Goukeman who was listed in the Poll Tax of Yorkshire in 1379. Thomas Goykeman of County Yorkshire in 1460. William Gawkeroger, 1539, Rothwell Pr(Y). John Gawkrycher, 1553, Fr.Y. Danyell Corkroger, 1685, Fr.Y.

An April fool is an April gowk in Yorkshire; 'On the first of April, Hunt the gowk another mile' from Dawson History, of Skipton.

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.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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