For a village in a fairly flat landscape where the highest part is about fourteen metres above mean sea level to have the word “hill”, as part of its name must be a little unusual. The perversity of this situation has not however deterred those who have sought to find an origin for the name and a wide variety of suggestions have been put forward. Some have contained a great deal of romance whilst others have relied upon etymology in the certain knowledge that few of us would have the understanding to refute their pronouncements.
There is however some written evidence which will help to establish the facts, but first we have to abandon local consideration
and seek our answer in national history. A few years after the Norman invasion of England William the King had a census made of
the country for tax purposes. This was the Doomsday Book in it our village is called Golse. Our problem is how do we get from a Saxon settlement called Golse to present day Goxhill?
Back again to King William. When he and the Normans invaded the country their army consisted of a large number of knights and noble men and their followers who came, together with their families, in the hope of gaining wealth and land. In the following years the king rewarded them and gave them awards of land. These people were required to provide service and to help to control the country.
One such family had the name De Gouxil. They received land, some of which was in Lincolnshire and some in Yorkshire. In Lincolnshire they held manors at Roxholm Market Stainton Gedney and Goxhill. Giles De Gouxil was the Sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1264 and in 1267 and officiated immediately afterwards in Yorkshire. On Peter De Gouxil’s manor at Market Stainton in 1286 each holder of 1 Bovate of land spent 1 day annually sowing the demesne and 5 days reaping in autumn. At Roxholm part of the customary obligation was to render annually at the feast of St Martin 660 bundles of rushes. These were used to thatch the De Gouxil manor houses.
There is in the Grimsby Archive office a small parchment recording a grant of land by Ralph De Gouxil to John son of Gilbert of Littlecoates dated 29 December 1313. Ralph was the son of Peter De Gouxil. Shortly after the time of that grant, in the early part of the 14th Century Phillip De Spencer gained control of the Goxhill estate from the De Gouxil family. I have been unable to find a place called Gouxil in France from which the family could have come but there are at present two places with the name Goux in Brittany. I have also been unable to find out if the estates of the family included the small village of Goxhill in Yorkshire, but that suggests an area for further research.
Coming back to the village itself, the interesting bumps and hollows in the field behind The Hall may or may not be the remains of a Norman Motte. However there would most certainly have been some sort of residence as part of the manor here. It would seem very probable that Gouxil like many other Norman words was anglicised by the local people and so it was that Goxhill became the name of the village. That is of course, unless you know better.