Gilbert Surname Genealogy

Gilbert surname is of Norman French origin – from
a Norman personal name derived from the
elements gisil,
meaning “noble youth,” and berht,
“bright” or “famous.”
Richard fitz Gilbert was a Norman lord who
accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066.
The Gilbert namethen enjoyed considerable
popularity during the Middle Ages as a result of the fame of St.
Gilbert of
Sempringham, the founder of the only native monastic order in England.
There are also considerable numbers of
Gilberts in
. Gilbert can be
a Jewish name too. Examples today are the British historian Sir Martin Gilbert and the American tennis coach Brad Gilbert.

Gilbert Resources on

Gilbert Ancestry

surname Gilbert has its earliest origins in the west country, in
particular in

West Country. It
was said that Gilbert or Jilbert possessed lands in the vicinity of
Dartmoor at the time of Edward the Confessor.
The earliest recorded Gilbert was Thomas Gilbert who held
Greenway near
Dartmouthin the early 1300’s. From
this line in Elizabethan times came Sir John Gilbert, who remained at
home, and
Sir Humphrey Gilbert, the
adventurer abroad. They
were half-brothers to Sir Walter Raleigh. Compton
Castle in Devon remained home to the Gilberts until 1785
(although a descendant does live in the place today).
Later Gilberts of this family settled in

Other early Gilberts in the west country were:

  • the
    Gilberts of
    Holwell (South Milton) in Devon from sometime in the 15th century
  • the
    of Bruton Abbey in Somerset from Tudor times. Tradition
    has it that these Gilberts were the principal
    founders of the
  • while
    Robert Gilbert, possibly the son of a local clothier, was MP for
    Gloucester from 1415 to 1430.

family of Gilberts began with Nicholas Gilbert who was born in Mullion,
Cornwall around the year 1600.

Elsewhere. Later centuries saw a shift in Gilberts from the west
country towards London and the southeast. William
Gilberd or Gilbert, the Elizabethan physician and scientist,
came from a prosperous merchant family in Colchester.
Gilberts in London in the 17th century included
Captain John Gilbert, granted a license to clean up the Thames in 1631,
James Gilbert, a gunmaker in the 1670’s.

Some Gilberts may have moved from west
to east. The Gilberts of Goudhurst in
Kent were thought to have originated from either Devon or Cornwall. Sir Jeffrey Gilbert, Lord Chief Baron of the
Exchequer in the reign of George I, was of this family.
of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, born in London in 1836,
originally from a Hampshire farming family.

Gilbert began supplying footballs to Rugby School in Warwickshire in
1820’s at the time that William Webb Ellis first picked up a ball and
ran with
it, thus inventing the game of rugby.
The business that William Gilbert started remained family-owned

Channel Islands
The name appeared as Guilbert in
Guernsey. Guillemine Guilbert was
rounded up as a heretic in 1556 during the bloody reign of Queen Mary
together with two other women, burnt at the stake.
George Guilbert was married at Forest in
1717. A Guilbert family later lived at
Hauteville near St. Peter Port.

arrival points for Gilberts in America were New England and

New England.
John Gilbert from Bridgewater in Somerset, distantly related
to the
Elizabethan adventurer Sir Humphrey Gilbert, came to Dorchester,
in 1630 with his third wife Winifred.
His descendants in America were covered in Geoffrey Gilbert’s
1959 book Gilberts of New England.
Notable among them was the architect C.P.L.
Gilbert who made his name in New York in the late 19th and early 20th
for his designs of townhouses and mansions.

Other early Gilbert arrivals in New
England were:

  • Matthew
    Gilbert who in 1637 was one of the first settlers of the
    New Haven colony, being one of the famous “Seven Pillars” to found
    church and
    state there. He was the forebear through
    his son Daniel of the Gilberts of Hamden, Connecticut.
  • Thomas
    Gilbert who came to Braintree in 1639 and later settled in
    Wethersfield, Connecticut. His descendants made their home in
    Stamford, New York. This line was covered in Eliza Gilbert’s 1920
    book The Benjamin Gilbert Branch.
  • while
    Humphrey Gilbert,
    thought to have come from Cambridge in England, was recorded as living
    Ipswich, Massachusetts by 1642. His
    second wife Elizabeth was the mother of his only son John who became a

line of Timothy Gilberts began with the birth of Timothy Gilbert in
Massachusetts in 1748. Timothy and his
brother Lemuel were piano manufacturers in Boston in the first half of
the 19th
century. Timothy was also a leader of
his local Baptist church and an abolitionist advocate

Quaker Gilberts began arriving into Philadelphia and
its outlying areas in the 1680’s. Some
have them coming from Cornwall, although there is no confirmation of
this. There were three lines recorded,
those of Byberry,
those of Buckingham, and those of Warminster.
Benjamin Gilbert and his family at Byberry experienced a
terrifying ordeal
of seizure and captivity by Indians
1780. They were then exiled to Montreal
as the Revolutionary War was raging and were not to return to Byberry
until late

were German
Gilberts in Pennsylvania
Five male Gilberts from Hoffenheim in Baden came on the Nancy in 1750. The line of
John Georg Gilbert settled in
Montgomery county, that of his cousin John Andrew Gilbert in York
county. Johan
Conrad Gilbert
moved to Orwigsburg in Schuykill county where he
died in

Gilbert, said to have been a descendant of the Elizabethan physician
scientist William Gilbert, came to Philadelphia from Tamworth in
in 1787. It was written in a family
letter that when George Washington saw his son Joseph disembarking, he
him on his head and said: “A fine rosy-cheeked English boy who will
make a good
American citizen.”

The Gilberts established themselves in what became
Gilbertsville in Oswego county, New York.
Grandson Abijah moved to New York City and, in 1865, to Florida
where he
served as its US Senator. The family
history was
covered in Carl Beck’s 1953 book The
Abijah Gilbert Family of Gilbertsville

Canada. Early
Gilberts in Canada were French.
Jean Gilbert had arrived in Quebec by the 1680’s and made his
home at
Pointe-aux-Trembles. Louis Gilbert came
with his wife around 1720 and settled in L’Ile Dupas. Some
Gilbert descendants crossed the border
into Wisconsin and Maine during the 19th century.

Isaac Gilbert was a Loyalist who
crossed over to Canada after the
Revolutionary War. He was one of the
pioneer settlers of Woodhouse township, Norfolk county in Ontario. His story was covered in Harriet Walker’s
1981 book Isaac Gilbert: United Empire

Australia. The
suburb of Gilberton in South Australia owes its name to Joseph Gilbert,
a sheep
farmer and winemaker who had come to the colony from Wiltshire in 1838. Simon Gilbert, the fifth generation of these
winemakers, has his vineyards in the Mudgee district of NSW.

Gilbert Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Gilbert Names

Sir Humphrey Gilbert was
an Elizabethan adventurer, soldier, and explorer who through planting
the English flag in Newfoundland was a pioneer of the English colonial
empire in North

William Gilbert was an English 16th
century scientist credited with the invention of the term electricity.
was the dramatist and librettist in the phenomenally
popular 19th century Gilbert & Sullivan comic operas.
Sir Martin Gilbert

is a renowned Jewish British historian and the biographer of Winston

Select Gilberts Today

  • 32,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 42,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 18,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)





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