1) To geld was to castrate a male animal and this was a significant and necessary operation in animal husbandry, especially for institutions such as the great monasteries which had large flocks and herds.
For example, Bolton Priory had specialist herdsmen responsible for the neutering of animals from the thirteenth century: 1295-6 Et in stipendiis de geldehirdes per annum viijs. This soon gave rise to ‘geldherd’ as a by-name and surname and it can be compared with similar compounds: 1301 de Hugone Geldehogg, Malton
c.1310 terram Gilberti Geldegres, Tadcaster. The animals treated in these cases were sheep and swine. The occupation is well evidenced over the centuries: 1580 to a gelder for geldynge swine and cattell 8d, Stockeld
1729 Joseph Dixon, sowgelder, Batley. Numerous compound words identify the different kinds of neutered animal: 1419 de … multonibus et geldeschep, Beverley
1435 suos Geldbestis, Beverley
1526 gelde nowte, York
1549 Item 4 gelde kye price 56s, Marrick
1559 j geld whye, Westerdale
1600 five geld ewes and a toope, Abbotside. The farming books of Henry Best of Elmswell in the East Riding provide additional illustrative material: 1642 Close tuppes are such as have both the stones in the ridge of the backe, and are therefore very difficult to geld
Weathers are such as have formerly been tuppes but nowe are gelded . One or two later variations in spelling have been noted: 1703 12 gueld sheep, Holmfirth
1734 that none shall break the Averarge with Cows or Gelt cattle, Lund
1730 takeing of the skin of a gelt buck, Kippax. Horses are referred to in the accounts of Richard Cholmeley: 1615 I gelded Black Palmes and Yonge Turke, Brandsby.