The English surname of GAYTHER was an occupational name 'a watchman' one in charge of the castle or manor gates. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupational names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. Early records of the name mention Michael le Geytere, 1273, County Huntingdonshire, and Edwin Gayther of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John Gater and Mary Whalle were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1762. Robert Barker and Mary Gater, were married in the same church in 1779. The name is also spelt Gate and Gates. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings. The name was also occasionally used as a nickname for a stubborn or particularly difficult person, derived originally from the Old English word GAT. The surname is confined mainly to the north of England.
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