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Our 2,745 members have registered
2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

The Godsland One-Name Study was started in 1992 after discovering that my great-great grandfather Robert Armstrong had married Mary Ann Godsland in about 1830. The only problem was I couldn't find the marriage! Up until that point my research had been concentrated in South London where all the family had come from. It was found from the 1851 census that Robert had come to London from the City of Hereford and Mary Ann had come from Crediton, Devon. It seemed that the marriage could have taken place in London, Crediton or Hereford. Once I had moved on to researching in Devon, I was struck by how the Godsland name was almost exclusive to North Devon and the area around Morchard Bishop. By now I was hooked and just had to locate every Godsland! About three years ago I finally found that Robert Armstrong and Mary Ann Godsland had married at St Andrew, Holborn on 3 August 1830.

Variant names

I have registered the variants Gosland, Gossland and Godslande.

However, many other variants, 'deviants', mis-spellings and mis-transcriptions have been found. These include:

Gadsland, Gausland, Goasland, Goddesland, Goddislond, Goddysland, Godeslond, Godgland, Godland, Goggalond, Goggislonde, Goosland, Gosdland, Goseland, Goslande, Goslend, Goslind, Gosseland, Gousland, Gozland.

The name also appears sometimes as Gosling and Goslin although these I would not consider to be true variants. There is also one strange case where a Godsland family gradually changed to Godland and then Goodland, moving to Cornwall in the process!

Name origin

The Godsland surname is thought to be locative and come from an area in the parish of Cruwys Morchard, Devon known as Gogland. C. Spiegelhalter in 'A Dictionary of Devon Surnames' quotes this origin for the name and cites Wm. de Goggalond, 1329; A. de Godeslond, 1332; & Rt. Gogdland, 1697 in support of this assertion.

Name frequency

There are 116 Godsland and variants recorded in the 1881 census index giving a frequency of 1 in 257,703 or 0.0004% of the population.

It is estimated that there are about 120 Godsland and variants alive today in England & Wales. This is a frequency of 1 in 433,682 or 0.0002% of the population.

Certainly the number of Godslands is shrinking as the population of England & Wales has more than doubled from just under 26 million in 1881 to a little over 52 million in 2001.


The following Data is held:
  •  All GRO index references for births, marriages and deaths in England & Wales from 1837 to 2005. Also held are a number of certificate photocopies and many transcripts of marriages from parish registers for this period.
  •  Transcripts of the full details of all census entries for England & Wales from 1841 to 1911.
  •  Copies of all Wills and Admons proved by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury up to 1858. (Very few in number)
  •  Index details of all Wills and Admons proved in England and Wales from 1858 to 2008, together with copies up to 1993.
  •  Index details of all published Devon Wills and Admons from the British Record Society series. (The majority of locally proved Devon Wills were destroyed by enemy action in WWII).
  •  Numerous transcripts of baptism, marriage and burial entries in parish registers from 1538 to the start of registration in 1837, together with baptisms and burials after the start of registration until the present-day.
  •  There is an ongoing project to gather all the Scottish registration and census records for the Gosland/Gossland families who inhabited the area around Glasgow. These are unconnected with the Devon Godslands.
  •  Census records for the USA from 1880 to 1940.
  •  Commonwealth War Graves Commission entries for those killed in war.
  •  Passenger lists of migrants to Australia, the USA, India, South Africa etc.
  •  Copies of entries from the Exeter Flying Post & other South West Newspapers for the period 1800-1900. Also a small selection of cuttings from the USA.
  •  Details from the indexed issues of the London Gazette and the Edinburgh Gazette.
  •  Numerous directory entries for Devon, London and Massachusetts.