Gawain History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
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." 
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. 
Early History of the Gawain family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gawain research. Another 81 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1612, 1684, 1612 and 1642 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)
Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was Thomas Gawen (1612-1684), English Catholic writer, son of Thomas Gawen, a minister of Bristol, born at Marshfield, Gloucestershire, in 1612. After taking orders he travelled abroad...
Another 36 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gawain Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Gawain family
The Welsh 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..
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- ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)