The famous surname of Bill Gates and its humble beginnings

The Famous Surname of Bill Gates and Its Humble Beginnings

Whenever we hear the name 'Bill Gates', we immediately think of one of the richest and most influential people in the world. However, not many people know the humble beginnings of the Gates family and how their surname became so famous. In this article, we will delve into the history of the Gates family and explore the origins of their surname.

The Gates Family - A Brief History

The Gates family traces its roots back to England, specifically to the county of Lincolnshire. Records show that the family has been present in that region since the 16th century. However, it was not until the 19th century that the family gained prominence thanks to their involvement in law and politics.

William Henry Gates Sr., the father of Bill Gates, was born in Bremerton, Washington in 1925. He attended the University of Washington and later pursued a law degree at the same institution. Bill Gates' mother, Mary Maxwell Gates, was born in Seattle, Washington in 1929. She also attended the University of Washington and earned a degree in both business and education.

The Origins of the Gates Surname

The surname Gates is of Anglo-Saxon origin, derived from the word 'geat', which means 'gate' or 'entrance.' This suggests that the name was originally used to describe someone who lived near a gate or an entrance. Over time, it became a surname and was passed down from generation to generation.

The first recorded use of the Gates surname dates back to the 13th century when a man named Adam atte Gate was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Hampshire in England. The surname became more widespread in the 16th century, particularly in the county of Lincolnshire where the Gates family originated from.

The Gates Family Coat of Arms

Like many other noble families, the Gates family had their own coat of arms. The coat of arms featured a red shield with three gold gates, arranged in a diagonal pattern. The crest was a lion holding a sword, while the motto was 'prestantia in minimo', which translates to 'greatness in small things.'

The Influence of the Gates Family Today

The Gates family was not always as influential as they are today. It was not until the rise of Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, that the family gained national and international recognition. Bill Gates' success has brought the family name into the limelight, making them one of the most recognized surnames in the world.

However, it is not just Bill Gates who has contributed to the family's influence and success. His father, William Henry Gates Sr., was a prominent lawyer and philanthropist who played a significant role in shaping Bill Gates' worldview. Mary Maxwell Gates, Bill Gates' mother, was also instrumental in his success, particularly in her efforts to introduce him to the world of computers and programming.


The Gates family may have started as a humble family from England, but their influence and success have made them one of the most recognized surnames in the world. The origins of their surname may be simple, but it is their contribution to the world of technology and philanthropy that has truly made them famous.