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At the present day this word is most commonly used, in a rather pejorative way, of a person who delights in idle chatter, and yet historically ‘gossips’ were people who shared a spiritual affinity via the godparent relationship. This meaning is much closer to the word’s etymology which linked ‘god’ with ‘sib’, that is god-relation. It was an early place-name element: c.1130 Godsibacre, Conistone and a by-name: 1297 De Stephano Gossib, Welwick. Examples of the common noun occur frequently from the Tudor period, particularly in testamentary material: in 1485, for example, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, left to his gossep, Mr William Potemana tonne of wyne of Gascoigne, yerelie . However, the significance of the relationship is more apparent in an extract from a will written in 1560, which reveals how ‘gossips’ could share the same Christian name and be of service to one another throughout their lives: 1560 I, Robert Hudson of Barkeston, … gyve to my gotsipp Robart Man, for his paynes takynge in drawynge of this my last will and also for makyng my new lease betwixt Mr Barkeston and me, iijs iiijd . See CN46-59.

dates 1130 1297 1485 1560

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