Gibbs Surname Genealogy

Gilbert – from the
Norman Gislebert or Gillebert (meaning
“bright noble youth”) – came to England with William the
Conqueror. It was recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book in its
form, Gislebertus. The name became popular during the Middle
The pet name was Gib.
The principal surnames from Gib were Gibbs
and Gibson
(both meaning son of Gib). The
Gibson surname was more common in northern England and in Scotland. However, the variant spelling Gibb was also to
be found in Scotland.

Gibbs Resources on

Gibbs Ancestry

England. Gibbs has been a name of
southern England, both SW England and SE England.

SW England. It was said that there
were two Gibbs
brothers in the late 14th century, one living at Honington in
Warwickshire and
the other who moved to Devon:

  • the line from Thomas Gibbes at Honington extended
    to Robert Gibbes who acquired Honington manor at the time of the
    and to Thomas Gibbs who sold this estate in 1670. His
    brother Robert emigrated to the
    Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1658.
  • while the other line began with John Gibbe at Venton manor in Dartington
    parish, Devon. His Gibbe descendants
    settled in Exeter and Clyst St. George.

One line of the Gibbs in Devon was to be
found at Topsham on the Exe, beginning with Abraham Gibbs in the
mid-1600’s. Later came George Abraham
Gibbs, a surgeon in
Exeter, and his sons:

  • Sir Vicary Gibbs who was the Lord Justice of the Common
    Pleas in 1814. He was known for his
    caustic wit which earned him the nickname of Vinegar Gibbs.
  • and a younger son
    Antony Gibbs who had the more distinguished line of descent.

Antony started the
trading company Antony Gibbs &
in 1802. It initially focused
on trading
in cloth and guano but later became involved in banking, shipping and
insurance. After Antony’s death in 1815, the business was run by his
sons Henry
and William and then by William’s nephew Hucks Gibbs.

  • Hucks Gibbs, ennobled as
    Baron Aldenham, was also a Director of the Bank of England and its
    from 1875 to 1877. His son Herbert was
    made Baron Hunsdall in 1923.
  • Herbert’s son Humphrey moved to Rhodesia in 1928
    and served as its Governor in the years preceding independence. Herbert’s grandson Christopher was a
    well-known antiques dealer in London in the 1960’s, often credited with
    inventing the phrase “swinging London.”
  • meanwhile the line from Henry’s brother William,
    who based himself at his Tyntesfeld home in Wraxhall parish, Somerset
    led – two
    generations later – to George Gibbs, made Baron Wraxhall in 1928.

William Gibbs
established himself at South Perrot in Dorset around the year 1580. His grandson John was an early arrival in the
Jamestown colony in Virginia in 1619.

Henry Gibbes was the mayor of Bristol in
1524. From his line came the Gibbes
plantation owners in Barbados in the 1700’s.
Some have John Gibbes who emigrated to Australia in 1834 and was
the NSW
Collector of Customs as a descendant.
But this cannot be proved.

SE England. An early line in Kent
began with Thomas Gibbs
who was born in Folkestone in 1460. He
was reported to be descended from the Devon Gibbs.
Later Gibbs in Kent were to be found at
Elmstone and Preston-next-Wingham.

Gybbes was first recorded as a name in
Buckinghamshire at Claydon in 1495. The
name appeared in nearby Winslow some twenty years later.
In the 18th century a Gibbs family was well-known as bell-ringers in Winslow
and the Gibbs name was still to be found there in the 20th century.

“In January
1904 there was interred at Winslow churchyard the body of William Heley
who passed away at the advanced age of eighty-four years.
Mr. Gibbs who had resided in the town all his
days was the representative of a yeoman family who for at least 500
years have
been known and respected in Winslow.”

The early spelling was
probably Gib. Robert Gib held Carriber
castle near
Linlithgow in west Lothian in the 1500’s.
He was master of the stables to James V of Scotland.

And there were several generations of Gib
maltmen in Bo’ness, West Lothian before the birth of William Gibb there
in 1736. He was one of the first civil
engineers in
Britain and the forebear of six generations of Gibb civil engineers, to
Gibb who unfortunately lost his life in a motor accident in 1970.

More famous were the brothers Barry, Robin, Maurice
and Andy Gibb who formed the Bee Gees band, one of the most successful
groups of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Their
family roots were in Lanarkshire.
Matthew Gibb left poverty there to enlist in the British army in
and fought in the Afghan wars. His son
Hugh moved to Manchester and his son Hugh, the father of the Bee Gee
took them to Australia in the 1950’s.

Ireland. Gibbs
were Englishmen who came to Ireland. It
was said that three Gibbs brothers deserted Cromwell’s army in
Tipperary in
1649 after its defeat at Clonmel. They
made their home at Lisronagh nearby and started a forge there.
forge grew in reputation and the family business expanded, with part of
family moving to Killarney in the middle of the 18th century.

The Gibbs family of Cork city and Derry was
thought to have originated from the Gibbs of Devon.
Daniel Gibbs was admitted as a freeman of
Cork in 1725 and a later Daniel was a Justice of the Peace and served
as deputy
Governor of Cork.

America. There were some notable
early Gibbs arrivals in New England.

New England. Thomas
Gibbs came on the Truelove in 1627 and
is thought to have been the forebear of a long line of seafaring Gibbs
Sandwich on Cape Cod.
Giles Gibbs arrived on the Mary and John from Devon in 1632 and moved to Windsor,
in 1636.

Robert Gibbs meanwhile left his
Gibbs home at Honington in Warwickshire for Massachusetts in 1658. He prospered as a merchant in Boston and
a trail of Henry Gibbs that were to be associated with Harvard
University. By the early 1800’s the Gibbs
affiliation had
switched to Yale. Josiah Gibbs was a
professor of sacred literature at Yale from 1826 to 1861.

“He is chiefly remembered today as the
abolitionist who found an
interpreter for the African passengers of the ship Armistad
in 1839, allowing them to testify during the
trial that followed their rebellion against being sold as slaves

Gibbs from Somerset was the forebear of the
Gibbs of Rhode Island, arriving there around 1720.
His grandson
George, based in Newport,
was a grain merchant who founded the shipping firm of Gibbs and
Channing. At one time the firm owned 
seventy-five vessels
sailing out of Newport.

Born into a rich family, his son George devoted his life
to the collection of minerals; while his son George became known for his expertise in
Native American customs and languages.
The family story was told
in George Gibbs’ 1933 book
The Gibbs family of Rhode Island.

Virginia. There were probably two John Gibbs who arrived
in Jamestown – the first who came on the Supply
in 1619 and the second on the Abigail
in 1621. The latter, but perhaps not the
former, survived the Indian massacre in 1622 and resided at Jordan’s
later Charles City. John’s descendants
were through his son Gregory.

John Nicholas Gibbs came to
Maryland from Germany in 1747. He later
settled in North Carolina where he
fought on the Patriot side in the Revolutionary War.
After the war he settled in Knox county,
Tennessee. Four generations of the Gibbs
family lived at his homestead between 1792 and 1913.

Caribbean. There were several Gibbes
or Gibbs families
in Barbados by the 1630’s. Philip,
William and Henry Gibbes were from Bristol and their descendants became
plantation owners on the island. Robert
Gibbes was from Kent and his son Robert served as the colonial Governor
South Carolina in 1710.

African American Gibbs came to South Carolina from
Barbados as slaves in the early 19th century.
Four brothers – Anthony, Fortune, Moses, and Wetus – grew up as
and were emancipated when they were still young men.

Canada. Zacharias Gibbs was a
Loyalist plantation
owner from South Carolina who, after the British abandoned Charleston
in 1782,
fled to Jamaica before making it to Nova Scotia two years later. However, he disappeared in 1792, apparently
lost at sea while enroute to Ireland. Another
Loyalist, this time from Rhode Island,
was Jeremiah Gibbs. He took the Oath of
Allegiance at Missisquoi Bay in Quebec in 1795.

Thomas and Caroline Gibbs from Devon came to Quebec in 1819 and later
their home at Oshawa on Lake Ontario.
Their sons Thomas and William were prominent businessmen there
became involved in Ontario politics.
Their uncle Philip back in Devon joined them in Oshawa in 1859.

and New Zealand. Thomas and
Elizabeth Gibbs arrived in South Australia from Hampshire around 1840. Thomas farmed at Mount Benson.
Elizabeth died in 1851 and Thomas married
Mary Irving four years later. There may
have been five children under the first marriage and nine under the
second. So the descendants were

Isaac Gibbs, also from Hampshire, came to
New Zealand on the Bolton in 1842 and farmed in the
area. He died in 1903.
A descendant Baden Gibbs was a world champion
axeman in log-chop competitions.

Gibbs Miscellany

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

Gibbs Names

James Gibbs, born in Scotland, was one
of Britain’s most influential architects in the first half of the 18th
Antony Gibbs
from Devon founded Antony
Gibbs & Sons in 1802 and was the forebear of a prominent Gibbs
banking and political family of the 19th and 20th centuries.
May Gibbs
was an Australian
illustrator, cartoonist and children’s author, best known for her book Snugglepot and Cuddlepie which appeared
in 1918.
Barry, Robin, Maurice and Andy
formed the Bee Gees band, one of the most successful musical
groups of
the 1960’s and 1970’s

Select Gibbs Today

  • 32,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 25,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 20,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)





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