This is an English medieval locational surname. It originates from a place called Gaywood in the county of Norfolk, near to the town of Kings Lynn. The place name and hence the later surname, is believed to originate from the pre 7th century word 'gat' meaning goat, and 'wudu', a wood or a clearing in a wood. The place name is believed to have been first recorded as early as the year 996 a.d. as "gaeg-wudu", and therefore not surprisingly the surname is also one of the earliest to be recorded as shown below. Being a locational name it is either one which was given to the local lord of the manor and his descendants, or more usually as seems to have been the case here, was given to a person who had moved from his original home, somewhere else, and as such was then given by his new neighbours and associates, as an easy means of identification. The first recording is believed to be that of Robert de Gayewode, who appears in the famous Hundred Rolls of the year 1273, as being a land or property owner, in the ancient city of London.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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