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The name has been around the Wash between Norfolk and Lincolnshire since at least 1390. It is most likely referring to someone who ‘lived near a water channel or drain.’ This could be from the wet nature of The Wash back then. The name GOTT, especially in Yorkshire, is from a different source, though both may derive from Viking or Anglo-Saxon invasions.
There are a small number of early records in Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire which have been included in references on surname origins, though there are no known family trees showing any linkage back to these references. These references generally confuse the name Gott and Gotts/Gottes/Gottys into single sources.
Variants: Currently, the only version is GOTTS, with mis-spelling as GOTT occurring. Prior to 1750 variants/mis-spellings exist as GOTTE, GOTTES, GOTTYS, GOOTIS
Bardsley describes the name Gott as a locative name referring to ‘a water channel or drain as per goyt’. Earliest reference quoted is in 1379 in Yorkshire.
Reaney suggests its origin as Gott, Gotts from the name Gotte, quoting references of Gotte filius Wulfrici 1188 in York, and Geoffrey Gottes in Norfolk 1348. The name Gocelin (pronounced Gotselin) is suggested as the origin with petforms Gosse and Got. In Yorkshire & Lincolnshire he suggests this could be Breton origin. A second origin is proposed as deriving from the Middle English words gotte, gut meaning gut, guts, a corpulent or greedy person.
Hanks & Hodges propose it derives from Gott as Norman English & German, a shortform of Germanic compound names with the first element of God. Gotts would therefore be a patronymic of these.
A small number of wills for Gottes and Gotts in North Norfolk through 1700’s are contained in the Norfolk Register Office.
Boyds Marriage Index shows the names ‘Gottes’ and ‘Gott’ mainly around the area of Northwest Norfolk/South Lincolnshire known as the Wash, and then the two names separate in the locations. The name Gottes moves into North and central Norfolk, and changes to ‘Gotts’, whilst the name Gott moves up to Lincolnshire. Separately, there is a large early presence of ‘Gott’ in Yorkshire.
Given the name seems to have been around the Wash in the 1400’s which would have been very swampy then, the derivation of ‘living by a drain or gutter’ sounds the most plausible.