Show ContentsGear History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

As we follow the name Gear back through history, we find that the surname is ultimately derived from the Middle English word "geary," meaning "changeable" or "passionate." [1]

Another source notes "This surname is derived from a geographical locality. 'at the gare' , from residence thereby." [2]

And another source states "Gear signifies all sorts of wearing apparel and equipments for horses and men, from the Saxon gearrian, to make ready; and the name was probably given to one who took charge of and superintended the gear. John of the Gear, John O' Gear, and at length John Gear." [3]

Early Origins of the Gear family

The surname Gear was first found in Suffolk, where the earliest record of the name is Albert, Joscelin Gere, who was listed in the "Cartularium monasterii de Rameseia" Rolls between 1133-1160. [1]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 had only one listing of the family: Stephen de la Gare, Kent. But the "Placita de Quo Warranto, temp. Edward I-III." had two listings, both 20, Edward I (during the twentieth year of King Edward I's reign): Lucas atte Gare, Kent; and Lucas de la Gare, Kent. [2]

Allen Atte-gar, was vicar of Elmham, Norfolk in 1356. [4]

"There is an estate named Gear in the parish of St. Earth, which Polwhele thinks may have had its name from caer, castrum; and he says Gear Bridge below was originally Caer Bridge. Geare in Cornish signifies 'green or flourishing.' " [5]

Early History of the Gear family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gear research. Another 78 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1379, 1601, 1602, 1565, 1580, 1603, 1622, 1662, 1622, 1601, 1649 and 1615 are included under the topic Early Gear History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gear Spelling Variations

The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries; therefore,spelling variations are common among early Anglo-Saxon names. As the form of the English language changed, even the spelling of literate people's names evolved. Gear has been recorded under many different variations, including Gear, Geare, Geear, Geere, Gere and others.

Early Notables of the Gear family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Sir Michael Geare (c. 1565 - ?), captain of the ship "Little John," who was knighted in for his role in the privateer wars in the West Indies with Spain in 1580-1603. Alan Geare (1622-1662), was a nonconformist divine, born at Stoke Fleming, near Dartmouth, Devonshire...
Another 53 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gear Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Gear migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that shrouded England made the far away New World an attractive prospect. On cramped disease-ridden ships, thousands migrated to those British colonies that would eventually become Canada and the United States. Those hardy settlers that survived the journey often went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Gear or a variant listed above:

Gear Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • George Gear, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1635 [6]
Gear Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Paul Gear, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1761 [6]
  • Andrew Gear, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1761 [6]
  • John Gear, who settled in Virginia in 1774

New Zealand Gear migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Gear Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • George Gear, aged 19, a labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Parsee" in 1873

Contemporary Notables of the name Gear (post 1700) +

  • Thomas Donald "Tom" Gear (1949-2018), American politician, Member of the Virginia House of Delegates (2002-2010)
  • W. Michael Gear (b. 1955), American writer and archaeologist
  • Kathleen O'Neal Gear (b. 1954), American writer
  • Dale Dudley Gear (1872-1951), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1896 to 1901
  • C. William Gear (b. 1935), British-born, American applied mathematician
  • Kathy Gear (b. 1967), American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Texas, 2004 [7]
  • John Henry Gear (1825-1900), American Republican politician, Mayor of Burlington, Iowa, 1863; Governor of Iowa, 1878-82; U.S. Representative from Iowa 1st District, 1887-91, 1893-95; U.S. Senator from Iowa, 1895-1900 [7]
  • Simon Gear (b. 1974), English cricketer
  • Michael Frederick Gear (b. 1934), English cleric, former Bishop of Doncaster
  • William Gear (1915-1997), Scottish painter
  • ... (Another 4 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  4. Rye, Walter, A History of Norfolk. London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, 1885. Print
  5. Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  6. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 19) . Retrieved from on Facebook