Gatward Family History

Welcome to the Gatward Ancestors website. My family tree project started out many years ago as a study of my paternal Gatward ancestors but this has since expanded to include my maternal forebears as well. This website is part blog, with interesting stories and information, and part resource for my genealogical research data. It is hoped that others with similar research interests will find this useful, and will be encouraged to share their own experiences and related information.

Please see the blog page for the latest news and information.

Research Interests

There are two distinct Gatward lines that I am aware of, one of which is centred around the Therfield & HItchin area in Hertfordshire, England (which I am not researching), and the other which picks up in the late 1700’s around Great Yeldham and Castle Hedingham in Essex, England. These Gatward families moved down to East London in the mid 1800’s, settling around Hackney and Bethnal Green. By the mid 1900’s, in an age of travel, these families had started to scatter and could be found around the UK and beyond. It is quite possible that both lines are related and may have their early roots in Saffron Walden, but this has yet to be proved with records currently available.

On my maternal side I also have an interest in Gooda, primarily from Norfolk, England, McMordie from Northern Ireland, and Cradock from Derbyshire and Leicestershire. The Cradock line initially proved difficult to crack, but eventually lead to the unexpected discovery of Royal descent (my 26x Great Grandfather was King Edward I).

I also have an interest in the Sussex families of Palmer, Fitsell, and Oxenbridge which represent my wife’s side of the family.

The surname list and full details of all these families and more, can be found in the family Tree page.

Gatward Surname Origins

This unusual and interesting name of Gatward (Gatwood, Gateward) is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational surname with two possible meanings. The first of these is derived from the Old English pre 7th Century “gatu, geat”, gate(s), and “weard”, guardian, to make an occupational name for a gatekeeper. Secondly, the surname Gatward can be an occupational name for a goatherd, “goat-ward”, derived from the Old English “gat”, goat, with “weard”, guardian. The medieval gatekeeper might have been the porter at a monastery, church, or a hall, manor house. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William le Gateward (witness), which was dated 1255, The Essex Assize Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 111, “The Frenchman”, 1216 – 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Quid Pro Quo

Something for Something. If you find information on this site useful, please try and give something back. If you think you may be related, have similar research interests, or can add or confirm any information, no matter how small, I would be delighted to hear from you. Of particular interest would be any photographs, documents, or family stories relating to Gatward or any of the other families in my tree. Please also see the Help Needed section for mysteries and brick walls that I am currently looking to solve. If you do want to get in touch, please use the Contact form or post a comment.

Word of Caution

All the information on this site is believed to be as accurate as is possible, but at best it is a transcript from the original source and open to interpretation. I would therefore encourage you to view information contained here as a research aid. Wherever possible, citations to the sources of the information used on this website are provided, so that you may independently seek and evaluate the information contained in those sources for yourself.