The surname of GENS is an English surname of two-origins. It was a nickname for a foolish person, or metonymic occupational name for a breeder of geese. The name was derived from the Old English word GOS. It is found chiefly now in East Anglia. The name has numerous variants which include GOOSE, GOS, GANSER, GANSMAN, GAUS, GOOS and GANZEL, to name but a few. Hugo Richard Gos, who was documented in London in the year 1176, appears to be the first of the name on record. Hugh le Gos, was recorded in 1227 in Bedfordshire, and Gilbert Gosman appears in Lancashire in 1246. Edwin Goseman of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. Later instances of the name mention Joose de Ram, who was documented in 1571 in County Norfolk, and John Gooseman was listed in the Wills at Richmond in 1598. Thomas Gosman appears in the same Wills in 1585. Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name. American and Canadian bearers of the name are descended from William Ellinger Gooze (died 1890), clerk and sexton to the parish of Ringwould, Kent, members of whose family have been established in the United States and Canada since 1883.
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