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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, French

Where did the English Gilbert family come from? What is the English Gilbert family crest and coat of arms? When did the Gilbert family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Gilbert family history?

The notable Gilbert family arose among the Cornish People, a race with a rich Celtic heritage and an indomitable fighting spirit who inhabited the southwest of England. While surnames were well-known during the English medieval period, Cornish People originally used only a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames came into common use is interesting. As the population of medieval Europe multiplied, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Patronymic surnames were derived from given names and were the predominant type of surname among the Celtic peoples of Britain. However, the people of Cornwall provide a surprising exception to this rule, and patronymic surnames are less common among them than other people of Celtic stock, such as their Welsh neighbors. This is due to the greater influence of English bureaucracy and naming practices in Cornwall at the time that surnames first arose. This type of surname blended perfectly with the prevailing Feudal System. One feature that is occasionally found in Cornish surnames of this type is the suffix -oe or -ow; this is derived from the Cornish plural suffix -ow. is a patronymic surname that came from the ancient Germanic personal name Gisilbert, meaning bright pledge.

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Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Gilbert, Gilbart and others.

First found in Devon where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D. Gilbert of Sempringham (circa 1083- circa 1190, son of a wealthy Norman knight, was a theologian, who became the first Englishman to found a convent; he was canonized in 1202.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilbert research. Another 151 words(11 lines of text) covering the years 1537, 1583, 1544, 1603, 1613 and 1694 are included under the topic Early Gilbert History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 103 words(7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gilbert Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Gilbert family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 101 words(7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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A look at the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Gilbert:

Gilbert Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Raleigh Gilbert settled to Maine in 1607
  • John Gilbert settled in New England in 1620
  • John Gilbert settled in Massachusetts in 1630
  • Richard Gilbert, who landed in Maryland in 1633
  • Tichard Gilbert, who arrived in Maryland in 1634


Gilbert Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • William Gilbert settled in Boston in 1716
  • Bond Gilbert settled in Nevis, Massachusetts in 1722
  • Dorothy Gilbert, who landed in Virginia in 1724
  • Anthony Gilbert, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1732
  • Anthorn Gilbert, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1732


Gilbert Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Christopher Gilbert, who arrived in America in 1802
  • Charles Gilbert, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1812
  • Peter R Gilbert, aged 43, landed in Maryland in 1812
  • Colomeza, Jose Gilbert, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1816
  • Adam Gilbert, who arrived in Maryland in 1825


Gilbert Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century


  • Walter Henry Gilbert, who arrived in Mississippi in 1902

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  • Cass Gilbert (1859-1934), American architect
  • Alfred Carlton Gilbert (1884-1961), American inventor, athlete, toy-maker and businessman
  • Walter Gilbert (b. 1932), American molecular biologist, who shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1980
  • Major-General Harold Napoleon Gilbert (1896-1966), American Director of Military Personnel Procurement Service, Office of the Adjutant-General (1945-1946)
  • Sir John Gilbert (1817-1897), English painter
  • Sir Joseph Henry Gilbert (1817-1901), English chemist
  • Sir William Schwenck Gilbert (1836-1911), English playwright and poet, best known for his collaborative comic operas with Sir Arthur Sullivan, known collectively as "Gilbert and Sillivan"
  • Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934), English sculptor and goldsmith
  • Mr. William Gilbert (d. 1912), aged 47, English Second Class passenger from Carleens, Cornwall who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Carl Joyce Gilbert, Special Representative for Trade Negotiations, Washington, DC, in the Executive Office of the President, with rank of Ambassador

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  • Ancestry of the Jameson Gilbert, Joy, Skinner, and Related Families by Bradner Petersen.
  • The Dunlap-Kimbrough-Gilbert Book by Sarah Ada Rasco Crumpton.
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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Teg yw heddwch
Motto Translation: Peace is pleasing.

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  1. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  2. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  3. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  4. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  5. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  6. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  7. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  8. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  9. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Gilbert Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gilbert Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 9 March 2014 at 19:33.

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