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 Gawan 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 Gawan family
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 Gawan family
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Gawan Spelling Variations
Wales, but they have an inordinately large number of spelling variations. Early variations of Welsh surnames can be explained by the fact that very few people in the early Middle Ages were literate. Priests and the few other literate people were responsible for recording names in official documents. And because most people could not specific how to properly record their names it was up to the individual recorder of that time to determine how a spoken name should be recorded. Variations due to the imprecise or improper recording of a name continued later in history when names originally composed in the Brythonic Celtic, language of Wales, known by natives as Cymraeg, were transliterated into English. Welsh names that were documented in English often changed dramatically since the native language of Wales, which was highly inflected, did not copy well. Occasionally, however, spelling variations were carried out according to an individual's specific design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations could be indicated by minor variations. The spelling variations of the name Gawan have included Gawen, Gaven, Gavin and others.
Early Notables of the Gawan family (pre 1700)
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Migration of the Gawan family to the New World and Oceana
During the latter half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the people of Wales journeyed to North America to find a new life. They made major contributions to the arts, industry and commerce of both Canada and the United States, and added a rich cultural heritage to their newly adopted societies. A look at the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Gawan: 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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