What is the origin of the last name Gates?

The last name Gates has English origins, derived from the medieval given name "Gate," which was a short form of the name "Geatheard" meaning "spear-strong." The name Gate gradually evolved into a surname and became a common occupational name referring to someone who lived near or worked at a gatehouse or a gate. Over time, variations of the name Gates can be found in different regions, such as "Gatiss" or "Gatesman," but the name continues to carry its original meaning tied to medieval England.

Countries of origin for the last name Gates

The last name Gates is of English origin and is classified as a topographical surname. Topographical surnames are derived from the physical features of a person’s residence or surroundings. In the case of Gates, the name is believed to have originated from the Middle English word “gat” or “gate,” meaning “a path or way,” particularly one that is enclosed or obstructed by a gate.

As a topographical surname, Gates likely belonged to individuals who lived near or had some association with a gate. This could refer to someone who lived near a physical gate, such as a town gate or entrance gate, or someone who lived near a road or path that was frequently gated. The name could also have been used to denote someone who was a gatekeeper or had responsibilities related to gates.

While the etymology of the name suggests a direct connection to physical gates, it is important to consider that surnames often underwent shifts in meaning over time. The surname Gates may have also been used to denote individuals who lived near or had connections to locations with the element “gate” in their names, such as a town or village.

The surname Gates can be traced back to early records in England, with variations of the name appearing in various forms. In the 13th century, the name appeared as “atte Gate,” indicating a person who lived at or near a gate. Over time, spelling variations such as Gattes and Gatys emerged. The modern spelling of Gates became more standardized in later centuries.

Several notable individuals bear the surname Gates. However, it is important to note that this analysis focuses on the etymology and historical significance of the name rather than specific individuals who bear it.

In conclusion,

the surname Gates has a clear association with physical gates, pathways, or gatekeepers. As a topographical surname, it likely belonged to individuals who lived near these features or had responsibilities related to them. While its specific origins may remain uncertain, the name Gates stands as a testament to the importance of physical entrances and pathways in our history. It reminds us of the significance of gates as markers of boundaries, guardians of access, and symbols of connection. As we delve deeper into our genealogical roots, the surname Gates presents us with a gateway to explore the rich history and diverse heritage of individuals who bear this name.

Interesting facts about the last name Gates

  • The surname Gates is of English origin.
  • It is derived from the Old English word “geat,” which means “gate” or “way.”
  • The Gates surname is primarily patronymic, meaning it originally referred to someone as the son of a man named Gate.
  • The surname Gates has a long history and can be traced back to medieval times.
  • The Gates family name was first recorded in the county of Kent in England.
  • Notable individuals with the surname Gates include Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, and Melinda Gates, his former wife and philanthropist.
  • The Gates family name is ranked as the 100th most common surname in the United States.
  • Variations of the surname Gates include Gate, Gatte, and Geits.
  • There are several places named Gates around the world, including Gateshead in England and Gates County in North Carolina, USA.
  • The Gates surname has no specific association with any particular coat of arms or family crest.

Name Rank


There are around 52569 people with the last name Gates in the US

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