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The name GOTT appears primarily in Yorkshire, whilst GOTT(E)S has been around the Wash between Norfolk and Lincolnshire since at least 1390. In Norfolk the name GOTT may have morphed into GOTTES through common usage. It is most likely a ‘topographical’ name (based on the land features where they lived) referring to someone who ‘lived near a water channel or drain.’
The names may both derive from Viking or Danish invasions/settlements bringing the same language.
Prior to 1750 variants/mis-spellings exist as GOTTE, GOTTES, GOTTYS, GOOTIS
Currently, the only versions are GOTT and GOTTS, with GOTTE and GOTTES being early forms of spelling. GOTER and GOATES are separate names, and probably derive from ‘Goatherds’.
The primary early locations are Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk.
In Norfolk they are mainly GOTT(E)S, Lincolnshire mainly GOTT, and Yorkshire always GOTT.
There are three different thoughts on the origin of the surname:
The last may apply for an individual recorded at that time, but it is difficult to see how this would become hereditary across so many different areas.
Given that both Yorkshire and East Anglia were under Danish rule during these formative years I favour the first, especially as there does not seem to be evidence of anyone bearing the name having any standing in society.
RA McKinley, in his books History of Surnames and Norfolk and Suffolk Surnames, has some interesting points to make:
Even more options on the next page…