The Gawain surname is a Brythonic Celtic
name that comes from the personal name
Gawen. This name was popular due to the exploits traditionally attributed to Sir Gawaine, a nephew of King Arthur
who was a native of the English/ Welsh
border area and was famed for his exploits as a Knight of the Round Table. Sir Gawaine was the hero of the battle with the giant Rhyence: 'That Gawain with his olde eurtesie.' Chaucer, The Squire's Tale. Independently, the surname Gawain is native to the Isle of Man
, and as a Manx name, it is an occupational
surname derived from Mac-an-Gabhain, which means the smith's son.
Early Origins of the Gawain family
The surname Gawain was first found in Wiltshire
, where "the Gawens of Norrington, in the parish of Alvideston, continued in that place four hundred
fifty and odd yeares. On the south downe of the farme of Broad Chalke is a little barrow called Gawen's Barrow, which must bee before ecclesiastical lawes were established." CITATION[CLOSE]
Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
The Hundredorum Rolls
of 1273 list Goselena filius
Gawyne in Cambridgeshire
and the Yorkshire Poll Tax
Rolls of 1379 list Peter Gowyn and Emma Gawyn. CITATION[CLOSE]
Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
Early History of the Gawain family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gawain research.Another 161 words (12 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gawain History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Gawain Spelling Variations
Although there are not an extremely large number Welsh
surnames, there are an inordinately large number of spelling variations
of those surnames. This variety of spellings began almost immediately after the acceptance of surnames within Welsh
society. As time progressed, these old Brythonic names were eventually were recorded in English. This process was problematic in that many of the highly inflected sounds of the native language of Wales
could not be properly captured in English. Some families, however, did decide to modify their own names to indicate a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even a patriotic affiliation. The name Gawain has seen various spelling variations: Gawen, Gaven, Gavin and others.
Early Notables of the Gawain family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early Gawain Notables in all our PDF Extended History products
and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Gawain family to the New World and Oceana
migration to North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries contributed greatly to its rapid development. These migrants were in search of land, work, and freedom. Those Welsh
families that survived the long ocean journey were critical to the development of new industries and factories, and to the quick settlement of land. They also added to an ever-growing rich cultural heritage. A search of the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Gawain: James, John, Michael, Thomas Gavin arrived in Philadelphia between 1775 and 1850; Thomas Gavin settled in Maryland in 1774; John MacGavin arrived in Philadelphia in 1844..