(more about this study to be written)


(to be written)

Registered with GOONS

I have registered this study with the Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS) which means that I am committed to collecting all occurrences of the surnames Goatham and Gotham that I can, worldwide.

GOONS defines a one-name study thus:

A one-name (or surname) study is a project researching all occurrences of a surname, as opposed to a particular pedigree (ancestors of one person) or descendancy  (descendants of one person or couple). Some ‘one-namers’ restrict their research geographically, perhaps to one country, but true one-namers collect all occurrences worldwide. The purpose of a one-name study is not just about the collection of data. Its aim is to research the genealogy and family history of all persons with a given surname and its linked variants.

(from ‘What is a one-name study?’ on the GOONS website)

This article goes on to explain the different emphases that studies may have. My aims are described here.

Scope – when, what and who

To a large extent the name of my study and the above GOONS definition describes this study but it may help to clarify and elaborate on some points.

When: the period covered by the study

Origins of the surname => today

I am looking for occurrences of the name from the earliest days of surnames, in the Mediaeval period, to the present. However, I have no wish to pry into the lives of the living, nor do I intend to publish any information about the personal lives of the living unless I have permission to do so from the person concerned.

That said, I would love to have reminiscences of the living about departed Go(a)thams, and also interesting information about their own lives. e.g. I have realised I have military information for some of those Go(a)tham men who served in WW1 and WW2, but very little about what Go(a)tham women did to contribute to the war effort, or how their lives were impacted as they tried to keep their children safe and fed etc. I hope soon to start collecting oral history; if you are happy to contribute but don’t wish it published that is no problem; I am happy to preserve it offline for posterity.

What: ‘All occurrences of a surname’

If there is a GOONS definition of what ‘all occurrences’ means I don’t know it.

Does it mean every single mention of a surname? For the past that would seems fine as an aim, for most of the Go(a)tham family anyway (although at present, and I suspect in my lifetime, unachievable) but in the present? – should I be gathering every Facebook comment, every tweet …

My interpretation of ‘all occurrences’


What I am seeking

There may be some sphere I have not thought of but generally I think it safe to say I am looking for any mention of a Go(a)tham, with the possible exception of the Rev. Thomas Gotham and maybe some sports events in newspapers.

As a priest, Thomas is likely to have signed so many documents I have no plans to seeks them out. I suspect if, for instance, I sought all the surviving wills made in parishes when he was in charge of them that I may find him as a witness to a good few of them. However, I don’t think this would contribute to the ONS and would not be a good use of my time. Should you have come across this comment, though, because you have found him witnessing something I would be pleased to hear and include the information of what he, as a priest, did.

How I am seeking

As I have commented, a fine aim, but impossible to achieve at present. There are two main reasons for this:

Go(a)thams in the UK: Although much is now available online there is still much that isn’t. I am happy to travel to archives offices to view documents, but for both online and record office research there can be both time and cost constraints.

  • Online
    Ideally, I would collect every English / Welsh BMD certificate and every UK will from 1858 onwards made by or mentioning a Go(a)tham. Although these are all indexed online, there are constraints. In addition,


    • Go(a)tham as subject of BMD cert or testator of wills proved after 1928: cost.
      I have bought a number of certificates – a few to work out links not clear from information then available online, also some death certificates, mainly where the ‘premature’ deaths of adults has left me wondering what ended their life too soon.
    • Other’s mentioning Go(a)tham: not indexed as such,
      Not feasible to identify let alone buy all certificates or wills that could mention a Go(a)tham even though it would be interesting to know, for example that a Go(a)tham was left a bequest by a friend or as a ‘thank you’ for help given to a neighbour, or was the informant of a death since they were present at it.
    • Too many Gothams in search results
      Where searchs result on OCR there can be far too many Gothams. This is for several reasons: the place in Nottinghamshire, errors in OCR especially mistaking Cotham for Gotham, Gotham used as a proper name … . Thus, whilst the number of Gothams in the UK in the C19th and C20th is of the same order of magnitude as the number of Goathams, a search on Goatham in the British newspaper collection on FMP at the time of writing returns a manageable 2 027 articles but Gotham returns 124 447 articles. Refining of the latter is necessary, but inevitably some will be missed. (That said, some of the search results seem to be due to the OCR process looking for words it recognises – and it recognises Gotham better than Goatham, so there are probably less missing from the results due to false negatives).
  • Archives offices
    • Much is still not indexed – or not thoroughly. Chancery Court cases, for instance, are often only indexed by one plaintiff and one defendant. A case concerning a Go(a)tham may not even have anyone of that name as plaintiff or defendant, even if the index did include all of these. One index does include the testators surname where the case concerns the execution of a will, but this does not cover all dates. Since there are literally millions of cases it is clearly not feasible to look at all or even many! I am doing some targetted research, e.g. a few Chancery cases concerning Abbotskerwell, at a time when Gothams made up a fair proportion of the population, but may cases are not indexed by place or show only county.
    • Even where a mention can be found in an index, it is not necessarily feasible to view the original document. For example, a reference found in Keith Matthews name index turned out to point me to 4 unsorted boxes in the DHC. Since the document was likely to tell me little more than the reference I am not happy to spend possibly several days searching for it. Hopefully, in a few years, the documents will all be sorted and separately referenced and it will be easy to see.
  • Go(a)thams outside the UK: Constraints similar to above, plus I will probably never travel to visit archives to see documents not online, so will have to rely on what I can see online, what others are happy to share or research, or what is not too expensive to order.

Despite the constraints there is much I have seen / plan to see, which I will list on a separate page.

What I make available on this website, however, depends on copyright restrictions. I would like to share everything, but unfortunately in the UK this means that even sharing a transcript of many historical documents is not permitted without the permission of the owner. Some I can only share online by restricting to those with password access, as this counts as ‘educational’, so if you have an interest you may see more by registering.

C20th on

I need to consider this more. What is clear at present:

  • I am not collecting every (or at present, any) Facebook / instagram / twitter etc. comment by or about a Go(a)tham.
  • I am collecting the things one would expect to be of interest: index entries for BMD events and wills (but not all the certs or will, as above), census and 1939 register entries, military records, parish register records, newspaper mentions, other obituaries, gravestone information, school and other educational or work / union records …
  • I am collecting some electoral roll information but need to think about the value of collecting all that I can, or all telephone directory information. It won’t be high priority.

Who: subjects of the study and others on the tree

Although those who have the name Go(a)tham are the main subjects of this study, they did not, of course, exist in isolation and so it makes sense to add some non-Go(a)tham family around them on the tree.

I think of the study as rather like a play – or perhaps more like a soap-opera. If you are familiar with the Archers you may think of the Go(a)thams as the main characters, like the Archers family, the supporting characters like those of the Archers cast who are regularly on the programme (e.g. the Grundys), and the bit-part players like those who appear very occasionally (e.g. James Bellamy) – or are just spoken of, but never heard.

A picture speaks a thousand words: whilst the links to those who are not subjects of the study could be described adding these relations means that they automatically appear on the relevant ancestor / descendant charts, and relationships can be seen at the click of a button.

Evidence: sources and proof arguments for bit-part players and supporting characters  can be vital in establishing which of two people with the same name is which, and hence what information applies to subjects of the study. It it is much easier to show this evidence if the relevant non-Go(a)thams are on the tree. (And having them on the tree makes it is much easier for me to see what / where research may help)

Main characters

The subjects of the study:

  • This study is about those who have the surname from birth or who acquire it by marriage or otherwise. This includes where Go(a)tham is part of a double-barrelled surname.
    Those who only had Go(a)tham as their name for part of their life:  my interest in them is from cradle to grave (and beyond on occasion) but in practice the study is likely to cover more thoroughly that part of their life when they were a Go(a)tham.
  • I am also interested in those who have been given this as a middle name, in the UK at least, as this is usually indicative of them having ancestors with the surname
    (I suspect that Gotham may have been used as a middle name in the USA from it being a nickname for New York; this may mean I need to restrict research of those with Gotham as a given name in the USA) 
  • Present-day surnames covered: Goatham, Gotham – whatever the origin (and various spelling variants when used in the past, as variants of Go(a)tham – especially Goteham, Gothan, Gottam, Gotam – but not all occurences of these names found today, when they clearly have different origins)
  • Name excluded: van Goethem, Godam (though those whose names changed to Gotham will be included)

Extent of research: I am studying these ‘main characters’ in depth.

Supporting cast

Those who in many cases will have played a major role in the lives of the Go(a)tham main characters.

  • non-Go(a)tham husbands and children of Go(a)tham women;
  • the parents and siblings of a non-Go(a)tham husband;
  • parents and siblings to women who became a Go(a)tham by marriage;
  • other spouses and children of Go(a)thams’ spouses and Go(a)thams by marriage;
  • parents, siblings and children of those with Go(a)tham as a middle name.

These ‘supporting characters’ serve three purposes:

  1. They put the lives of Go(a)thams in context
  2. These are amongst the people most likely to mention their Go(a)thams in their wills as their grandchildren or nephews / nieces may be Go(a)thams. (Of course, to find the wills of aunts / uncles of Go(a)thams-by-marriage I would need to extend the tree to research their grandparents and hence their parents’ siblings; at present I am not generally researching these though may do so, especially for lines where such information is likely to be found OR would be particularly helpful.)
  3. They can be invaluable in family reconstruction, especially prior to censuses and BMD registration and also where a Go(a)tham woman acquires a common surname on marriage (and similar).

Extent of research: I will generally look for vital records and wills but not aim to study the ‘supporting characters’ in depth.

Bit-part players

These are those known to be relations of a Go(a)tham or their spouse / partner and who have at least one link such as (list below probably not comprehensive):

  • relatives needed to show how a person with Go(a)tham as a middle name is linked;
  • others mentioned in a will of a Go(a)tham and those who mention one or more Go(a)thams in their will;
  • possibly other mentioned in a will which mentions Go(a)thams;
  • those relations in a census return or similar living with Go(a)tham main characters;
  • those named in a court case etc. in which a Go(a)tham main character is involved in order to show the connection;
  • those mentioned in a newspaper article e.g. an account of a wedding or funeral of a Go(a)tham or a person for whom a Go(a)tham was bestman or bridesmaid.
  • those researched in order to research something to do with a Go(a)tham e.g. to look for possible truth in ‘myths’ or to discover why someone used Gotham as a middle name;
  • some other relatives added where there was more than one Go(a)thams marriage into the same non-Go(a)tham family, in order to show the link in the non-Go(a)tham family e.g. that two Goatham sisters married two non-Goatham brothers, or two Gotham cousins married two non-Gotham sisters.

Extent of research: I may add information from vital records for ‘bit-part players’, but am happy to research just enough to establish the link.

Who: descendants from Go(a)thams?

Already included

As described above non-Go(a)thams with a Go(a)tham parent are ‘supporting characters’ and regularly added to the tree. Some grandchildren will be, as ‘bit-part players’ and a good case could be made for including all grandchildren, or at least those born in the lifetime of a Go(a)tham grandparent.

More distant generations

Although this study is not about those who do not have the name but are descended from Go(a)thams, I am happy to add a few non-Go(a)tham descendants to the tree – provided I have good evidence of the link.

I have already added many non-Goatham descendants of my ancestors Charles Goatham and his wife Sybilla to my tree and a few from earlier generations and I may add more from earlier generations of my Kent Goatham ancestors; I am not sure how many of these I should keep on the tree if / when I create a separate ONS tree.

I will not personally be studying the non-Gotham descendants of Gothams.

The value of adding more descendants

Adding non-Go(a)tham descendants serves two purposes:

  1. If you are not a Go(a)tham and I add you it can help you see your link to others in the tree (even when just shown as ‘living’ you can set yourself as the default person for relationships and then the top of a page will show how you are related – where known;
  2. It can help others discover their link to the Go(a)thams.

If you would like you / your line added:

If I add you or other living people neither your name nor any other information about you will be visible to all unless you request it. You may not make a request for another living person to be made public, even if they are a close relation of yours. (Information for a minor will not be made public without parental consent).

I suggest for non-Go(a)tham descendants you would like added you just send me the main data (with the source of this information):

  • dates and places of birth and / or baptism,
  • marriage(s),
  • death and / or burial
  • and, if your wish, one or 2 photos of the person.

If you would like more information included I will do my best to add it.

Last updated: 24 May, 2020


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