Select Gates Miscellany

Here are some Gates stories and accounts over the years:

Gates and Yates

Gates and Yates are both surnames that derived from the Old English gatu, plural of geat, meaning "gate."  Gates might seem the more likely derivation.  But it seems that in many parts of the country the original geat was pronounced with a "y" sound.  Consequently, Yates or similar spellings developed.

Early examples of Yates as a surname were:
  • Hereward de Jette in the Gloucestershire piperolls of 1198
  • Philip del Yate in the Cheshire piperolls of 1260
  • Robert atte Yates in the Norfolk assize rolls of 1344 
  • and Johannes atte Yate in the Yorkshire poll tax of 1379.
The surname is most common in Lancashire but appears widely around the country.  The spelling Yeats spread to Scotland and Ireland (and included the celebrated poet W.B. Yeats).

Gates has had a more limited geographical distribution (the Gates are outnumbered by the Yates in England by a factor of more than four to one).  The earliest appearences were in East Anglia. 
Later, the Gates name spread around the southeast, from Essex to Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire.

The Rise and Fall of Sir John Gates

The Gates family were a family of some standing in Essex and John Gates's father Sir Geoffrey had been a regular attendant at the court and upon the King until his death in 1526. 

John himself, educated at Lincoln's Inn in London, also became part of the royal household and soon became a trusted confidant of the King.  This was the time of the dissolution of the monasteries and John, through his position, was able to obtain for himself a number of church properties, most notably Beeleigh abbey in Essex.  When Henry VIII died, John Gates witnessed the King's will and rode beside the King's corpse in the funeral procession at Windsor. 

Gates's stock remained high during the reign of Edward VI, having allied himself with the powerful Duke of Northumberland.  He was knighted and made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. 

However, when Edward died, he made the disastrous mistake of supporting Northumberland in his doomed effort to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne.  For this he paid with his life.  His action might have been seen as a principled stand against the Catholic Queen Mary.  But history has generally viewed him as being greedy, grasping, and opportunistic. 

Nevertheless, for many years after, Beeleigh abbey was haunted by the headless ghost of Sir John Gates.  The ghost was said to appear each year on August 23 on the anniversary of Sir John's execution on Tower Hill.    

The Gates of Alton in Hampshire

The Gates name has a long history in the town of Alton in Hampshire.  The Crown Hotel in Alton was owned by a William Gates at the time of the Civil War.  It was captured by Cromwell's forces under General Waller. The Gates' sympathacies were probably on the Roundheads' side  as there were soon many Gates Quakers in the town.  Nicholas Gates, a master builder, built the Friends' Meeting House.  Some Gates spent some time in Winchester prison because of their beliefs.

Later Gates in Alton were farmers.  A number worked in the 19th century at the town's paper mill.  And many joined the army.

Stephen Gates' English Ancestry

Recent research by Edward Harrison has indicated with reasonable certainty that Stephen Gates was the son of Eustace Gates and Rose Wright.  Edward Harrison, a Stephen Gates descendant, began his family history research in 1985. 

It was originally thought that Stephen Gates was “of Hingham in England,” mainly because his marriage in 1628 and the 1636 baptism of his daughter Marie appeared in the Hingham, Norfolk parish registers. 

But Harrison’s research in the parish registers for Coney Weston, Suffolk, a small parish about sixteen miles south of Hingham, found a baptism record there for Stephen Gates, son of Eustace, dated December 26, 1597, a marriage record for Stephen’s parents Eustace Gates and Rose Wright, dated March 4, 1592, and baptismal records for Stephen’s siblings (Thomas, Rose, William, Alice, Mary the elder, Bridgett, Simon, and Mary the younger) ranging from 1593 through 1609. 

Stephen Gates married Ann Veare in Hingham in 1628 and he and Ann emigrated in 1638 to Massachusetts on the Diligent.  They settled in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Stephen died in Cambridge in 1662 and Ann remarried a year later.  Stephen’s descendants are large in number.  They include President George Bush through his mother’s line.

Gates and Goetz

The Germanic name Goetz is a diminutive form of Gottfried, a combination of gott (meaning ""god") and fried (or "peace").  One early Goetz family descended from German knights in Franconia (Hesse) and the name later spread to Wurttenberg and also to France.  Goetz was also adopted by some Jews in Galicia (which was part of the Austrian empire in the 19th century).

More Goetzes in total came to America than Gates.

Scotland and Ireland

Not all of these Goetzes changed their names to Gates when they came to America.  But a sufficient number did that Germany became more the country of origin for Gates than England.

Bill Gates' Ancestry

Bill Gates' ancestry had been traced back to Rhode Island and the early 19th century.  The list below shows the progression.

Joseph Stanton Gates, born in West Greenwich, Rhode Island in 1806, married Martha Satterlee
- William Henry Gates, born in Warrenton, Pennsylvania in 1860, married Rebecca Eppinhauser
- William Henry Gates Sr, born in Bremerton, Washington in 1891, married Elizabeth Rice
- William Henry Gates Jr, born in Bremerton, Washington in 1926, married Mary Maxwell
Bill Gates (William Henry Gates III), the Microsoft founder, born in Seattle, Washington in 1955,              married Melinda French in 1994.

William Gates Sr, Bill Gates' grandfather, owned a furniture store in downtown Bremerton in the 1920's.  Bill's father was a lawyer.

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