Gause Surname History

A website dedicated to the research, development and preservation of the historical record of the descendants and ancestors of George Charles Gause.

Seeking their place in religion and the world

CAEN CALVADOS, FRANCE: Fabien Gose c.1538-1580

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 of cheese.


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.


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 connection.

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.


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?

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