Contrary to popular belief, the surname GAUSE is not of German origin.
The surname's foundation is French. The earliest found record of the
family is in St. Reparate, France c.1393. The name does not appear in
record again until 1538 with the birth of Fabien Gose in Caen Calvados,
France. The name at that time was spelled GOSSE or GOSE. Little is known
of the family's existence in France, other than they were Catholic and
were a large family. The family had a Coat of Arms. However, this was
different than those of English origin. In France, anyone could choose a
coat of arms as long as it followed the rules of heraldry, and as long as
it was not anyone else's coat of arms. What the Coat of Arms does suggest
is that the family needed identification in battle or tournaments, and
thus developed a Coat of Arms. This also suggests that the family was
probably more than peasant farmers.
The word GOSSE in French means 'Kid.' This could be a reference to the
size of the family or some other connotation such as a nickname or
derogatory smear on someone's maturity. This is unlikely since surname
development usually had something to do with occupation. The early family
probably was goat farmers and 'kid' was associated with them because of
young goats they cared for which are also known as 'kids.' In 16th century
France, goats were a staple food used for milk, meat, and the production
The earliest mention of the family surname is from French records,
which spell the name GOUWS or GOSE and classify the family as Huguenots. The
Huguenots were French Protestants who were members of the Reformed Church,
which was formally established in 1550 by John Calvin. They were
dissenters from the Catholic Church and were branded as heretics.
At the time of the Huguenots, France was in the middle of a religious
struggle. The Catholic League was divided internally and the Protestants
were uneasy and untrusting of the heir to the throne, Henri IV. The
situation was further complicated by the fact that the majority of the
public was Catholic and the majority of the French army was Protestant.
It is reasonable to conclude that the early family was involved with
the Protestant church. However, since the Protestant church was only
established in the early 16th century, the populous was predominately
Catholic prior to this, and the family was predominately Catholic in the
future, I believe that this was only a brief transgression into another
religious belief. The first of two transgressions the family would undergo
to explore other religious philosophy. The family would investigate other
religious dogma for the next century.
FLIGHT from FRANCE
Several events occurred that caused people who were (or suspected as
being) Huguenots to flee France. A general edict which encouraged the
extermination of the Huguenots was issued in 1536. In 1562, some 1200
Huguenots were slain at Vassy, France. This ignited the Wars of Religion
which would rip apart, devastate, and bankrupt France for the next three
decades. This began the largest movement out of France by the Huguenots.
During the infamous St. Bartholomew Massacre of 1572, more than 8000
Huguenots, including Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, Governor of Picardy and
leader and speaker of the Huguenots, were murdered in cold blood in Paris.
One year prior to this event, eight years old Asa Gose was married in an
arranged marriage probably to keep the family's class line intact. His son
Johne would be born twelve years later, but it is unclear as to where he
was born. Johne appears in Scotland with his spouse Maragrete in 1602.
From the time of Johne's birth in 1583 till 1712 there are no records of
anyone with the surname Gose, Gosse, Goss, or Gause living in France. The
family was possibly outraged or frightened by the St. Bartholomew Massacre
and began to make plans to flee the country.
The family probably escaped France with the Huguenots who were fleeing
because of religious persecution. A lack of records is not uncommon
because refugees typically do not produce much in the way of official
records. The exodus from France would more than likely not be talked about
by the family for fear of possible repercussion from those they were
fleeing. This would explain the lack of future reference to the flight
from France. The family may have also been embarrassed with their brief
excursion into the Protestant religion because they reaffirmed their
Catholic faith immediately after they left France.
Upon fleeing France the family split into three main groups. These
groups settled in Germany, Switzerland, and Scotland. These families all
'appear' in these countries between 1538 and 1570. No prior record of
these families in these countries has been found.
The family adopted the linguistic characteristics of each country they
now called home. Characteristics of the German language spelled the 'os(s)e'
sound 'ause.' Thus the pronunciation of the name remained virtually
unchanged. However, the spelling changed to GAUSE. This was the first time
this spelling is used.
Family members that fled to Switzerland eventually began to spell the
name GAUS. The Swiss GAUS family may have been in some contact with the
German GAUSE family and changed the name from GOS(S)E to GAUS to possibly
show a relationship between the two groups. The changes in the surname are
too similar to be coincidental.
A family of confirmed Huguenot origin named GAUCHE emigrated to the
Cape of Good Hope, South Africa in 1678/79. The name eventually
became spelled GOUS and GOUWS. The pronounciation of the surname is
a match with other three families, so it is reasonable to assume that this
is also a branch of the family and conferms a definate Huguenot
FALKIRK-STIRLING; SCOTLAND: Johne Gose c.1583-1634
In Scotland, the family retained much of the original spelling of the
surname GOS(S)E, occasionally dropping the 'e' or one 's.' Both the
English and Gaelic languages made the 'osse' sound with 'os,' with the 'e'
and 's' being redundant. The spelling used by the family was GOSE or GOSS
until Charles came to the British Colonies.
The changing of the last name, even by the smallest amount, such as
dropping the 'e' or 's,' would have given the families considerable
animosity in their new countries. If authorities were chasing the family,
changing the surname would have allowed them to hide in plain site, in an
age without photos or computers. The various spellings of the surname can
also be attributed to illiteracy. Records from the time show a number of
misspellings such as Hellein and Kathererin.
The third group settled in Scotland. Parish records in Falkirk,
Sterling, Scotland refers to the Goss family migrating across the English
Channel from France in the late 16th Century.
The late 17th Century in the British Isles was a tumultuous time for
Catholics. Catholic James II, the King of England, was deposed by
Protestant political leaders who feared the establishment of a Catholic
dynasty. This caused James II to flee to France in 1688 in what was better
known as the 'Glorious Revolution.' For the next fifty years, James
followers, called Jacobites, struggled to restore the legitimate blood
line to the throne. Riots and plots ensued until 1745 when a Jacobite army
under James II grandson, 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' invaded England to depose
George II. The Jacobites were defeated at the battle of Culloden. This was
the last effort of the Jacobites to reinstate the blood-line to the
throne. Many Jacobites were captured and banished to the British Colonies
as indentured servants to work on farms as punishment.
FLIGHT from SCOTLAND
This period of conflict in the British Isles was the same period when
George Charles Goss came to the British Colonies. The family religion in
Scotland was Catholic, so they may have been getting away from the
Jacobite uprisings or escaping from their own involvement in the Jacobite
movement. An involvement may explain the variations in spelling of the
surname, perhaps to elude capture.
The Catholic problems may have only compounded the existing problems in
Scotland which made it hard to support a family. The leader of the family
could have sent Charles to the British Colonies when he reached adulthood,
so he could provide more for the family he would soon have, or to keep him
out of the religious conflict in the British Isles. Did the family learn
important lessons from the Huguenot conflict that forced them out of
France only a hundred years earlier?