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Early Origins

The name Gatfield in various of its forms of spelling dates back quite some time. The earliest entry found to date comes form the Gloucester Abbey cartulary which is dated around 1140. It reads:

Of Berkeley

William of Stauntone confirms to the church of St Peter of Gloucester [ie the abbey] two acres of land in Berkeley of the gift of Robert the Priest of Stauntone and the land which Edward de Gatesfeld held of the same monks in Gatesfeld for three shillings in the time of abbot Gilbert. Roger son of Maurice of Berkeley gave to St Peter of Gloucester his mill of Berkeley.

This entry gives the impression that the place Gatesfeld is connected with the parish of Berkeley, Gloucestershire. However no place by that name can be discovered in the area. The place, Stauntone, however holds some clues. This would appear to relate to Staunton which lies on the A417 about 8 miles north of Gloucester. Today lying just within the borders of Gloucestershire this parish appears to have at times been within the borders of Worcestershire. Approximately a mile to its north lies the parish of Eldersfield. Lewis in his 1831 Topogrpahical Dictionary of England describes it as:

ELDERSFIELD, a parish forming, with the parishes of Chaseley and Staunton, a distinct portion of the lower division of the hundred of Pershore, county of Worcestershire, 7 miles (W by S) from Tewksbury, containing 743 inhabitants. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Worcester, rated in the King's book at £8. 16. 8., and in the patronage of Sir Anthony Lechmere, Bart. The church, dedicated to St John the baptist has a handsome spire. There is a place of worship for dissenters, also a charity school supported by subscription.

Within the borders of the parish of Eldersfield we today find a hamlet called Gadfield Elm. On some older maps from the 1800's it is listed as Gatfield Elm. This hamlet, so small that it is not listed on any but the most detailed maps of the area is perhaps most famous for being the location of first chapel own by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) in Europe and possibly their first owned purpose built chapel worldwide. Acquired in 1840 from the United Brethren, a religious group of some 600 members who all joined the Latter-day Saints bar two, it was later sold the following year to raise money to fund the emmigration of members to North America. From its pulpit preached Brigham Young, who went on later to lead the Church in its historic migration across America and the founding of Salt Lake City, Utah. Today the chapel has been restored and serves as a museum for the Church.

This hamlet lying as it does so close to Staunton is therefore likely to be the location of "Gatesfeld" mentioned in the cartulary of Gloucester Abbey. As such it can safely be determined as the origin of the name Gatfield and all its derivatives.

As to the origin of the name Gatfield itself, it can only be assumed that it derives from the Old English words of Geat meaning Gate and Feld meaning field. However gate can also mean street when it preceeds or follows a name as in Westgate. This derives from Middle English and comes from the old Norse word gata. So the name may have meant the gate of the field or it might have been used as the street (or road) to/of the field.

When one examines the distribution of the surname in later centuries there can be no doubt that its origins are indeed in this region with a strong grouping of the surname in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. In looking at the available evidence it is also to be noted that the dispersal of the surname began at least in the 16th century with occurances in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshrie and London appearing around this time.

While an old surname and at one time belonging to a wealthy family the name has not spread in the same degree as others. This partly appears due to a limited number of those of the male line in any particular generation.


The Oxfordshire line (requires IE 5 or Netscape 6 to view) can be traced back to Thomas Gatefyld and Margarett Goode who married at North Leigh, Oxfordshire on 1 November 1584. Thomas and Margarett had two sons, Henrie and William and two daughters, Elizabethe and Susanna who married Henrie Baylye in Aug 1612. They were all christened at North Leigh between 1586 and 1594.

Henrie, son of Thomas married an Anne or Agnes and they had one son, Thomas baptised 1615 at North Leigh who died two years later. Anne was buried at North Leigh in 1632.

William, second son of Thomas, was the youngest of the family and was baptised in 1594. He married Joan Gilks at St Martin's, Oxford on 30 May 1626. They had two sons, James and Thomas and a daughter Jane, who married a Sharman. William and Joan resided at Sutton, Stanton Harcourt where he appears on the protestation rolls in 1642. William, a yeoman was buried at Stanton Harcourt 23 April 1684. The inventory to his will showed a personal estate to the value of £332 9s 0d.