Gilberte History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The notable Gilberte 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.

Early Origins of the Gilberte family

The surname Gilberte was first found in Devon where they were well established shortly after the Conquest with Gilbert of Sempringham (c. 1083 - c. 1190,) son of a wealthy Norman knight, a theologian, who became the first Englishman to found a convent; he was canonized in 1202. "The Gilbertines were an English order with numerous convents at the time of the suppression." [1] The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed the following: Isolda filius Gilberti; Robert Gilbertus; and Eustace filius Gilebert, while the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed: Nicholas Gilberdson; and Johannes Gilberd. [1]

Important Dates for the Gilberte family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilberte research. Another 76 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1537, 1583, 1544, 1603, 1613 and 1694 are included under the topic Early Gilberte History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gilberte Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Gilberte family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Sir Robert Gilbert of Somerson; Sir Humphrey Gilbert (c.1537-1583), English soldier and politician, known as the first English colonizer, even though his...
Another 30 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gilberte Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Gilberte family to Ireland

Some of the Gilberte family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Gilberte family

Investigation of immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Gilberte: Thomas Gilbert who came to Barbados in 1635; Francis Gilbert settled in Virginia in 1736; Richard Gilbert settled in Virginia in 1637; Robert Gilbert settled in Barbados in 1678.


  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
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