This is a locational name which is today (1989) world famous but in earlier times was rather less well recorded and indeed was very rare. It appears to be Old English and to derive from 'Col-geat' which translates as 'one resident at the cool gap' referring to some place, presumably a village which is now one of the seven thousand plus 'lost' medieval sites. From the 17th Century on the name is well recorded in London suggesting that a wholesale clearance of the village took place, the villagers perhaps proceeding 'en masse' to the capital in order to survive. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anne Colegate, which was dated 1686, married William Bowmar in London, during the reign of King James 11, 'The Last Catholic Monarch', 1685-1689. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.