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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, Welsh

The surname Gist was originally formed in the western region of Britain in the country of Wales. This name began as a nickname for a guest or stranger. The surname Gist is derived from the Old English word "gest," which in turn comes from the Old Norse Word "gestr," which means "guest" or "stranger."


The surname Gist was first found in Worcestershire, where they held a family seat from very ancient times.

Although there are comparatively few Welsh surnames, they have a great many spelling variations. Variations of Welsh names began almost immediately after their acceptance within Welsh society. In the Middle Ages, it was up to priests and the few other people that recorded names in official documents to decide how to spell the names that they heard. Variations that occurred because of improper recording increased dramatically as the names were later transliterated into English. The Brythonic Celtic language of Wales, known by natives as Cymraeg, featured many highly inflected sounds that could not be properly captured by the English language. Spelling variations were, however, also carried out according to an individual's design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations were all indicated by the particular variation of one's name. The spelling variations of the name Gist have included Guest, Guests, Jeste and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gist research. Another 217 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1248 and 1273 are included under the topic Early Gist History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Prominent amongst the family during the late Middle Ages was John Guest (1722-1785), a brewer, farmer and coal merchant in Broseley, Shropshire, co-founder of the Plymouth Ironworks in 1763; Sir Josiah John Guest, 1st...

Another 33 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gist Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Some of the Gist family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 71 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Many Welsh joined the great migrations to North America in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Like their Scottish and Irish neighbors, many Welsh families left their homeland hoping to find hope and prosperity in a land that the English did not exercise a tight rule over. Those Welsh immigrants that successfully traveled to North America went on to make significant contributions to the rapid development of both Canada and the United States in terms of the settling of land and the establishment of industry. They also added to the rich cultural heritage of both countries. An examination into the immigration and passenger lists has discovered a number of people bearing the name Gist:

Gist Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Christopher Gist, who arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in 1679
  • Edeth Gist, who landed in Maryland in 1679

Gist Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Georg Gist, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1737
  • John Adam Gist, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1765

Gist Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Y. Gist, aged 36, who emigrated to the United States, in 1896

Gist Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • John Henry Gist, aged 40, who emigrated to the United States from Manchester, England, in 1904
  • M. C. Gist, aged 30, who landed in America, in 1904
  • James Rapson Gist, aged 26, who settled in America from Callington, England, in 1909
  • Annie/Henr. Gist, aged 19, who settled in America from Callington, England, in 1909
  • Edwin J. Gist, aged 26, who landed in America from Clovelly, England, in 1913
  • ...

  • Lieutenant Francis J. Gist, United States Navy co-pilot and navigator on Operation Highjump, eponym of Mount Gist, Antarctica
  • William Henry Gist (1807-1874), American politician, the 68th Governor of South Carolina (1858 to 1860)
  • Joseph Gist (1775-1836), American politician, U.S. Representative from South Carolina
  • Carole Anne-Marie Gist (b. 1969), first African American woman to win the Miss USA title
  • Nathaniel Gist (1733-1812), American colonel, born in Maryland, fought during the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War, reputed father of Sequoyah the famous Cherokee
  • Robert Gist (1917-1998), American actor and film director, one time husband of Agnes Moorehead
  • Mordecai Gist (1743-1792), American general who commanded the Maryland Line in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War
  • Christopher Gist (1706-1759), American explorer, surveyor and frontiersman, one of the first white explorers of the Ohio Country
  • States Rights Gist (1831-1864), American lawyer from Union South Carolina, Confederate Army brigadier general who served in the American Civil War
  • James Clough Gist III (b. 1986), American professional NBA basketball player

  • Our Guest Is Your Guess: With Related Families of Biss, Jones, Gimbel, and Gist: Including Over One Thousand Surnames by Patricia Ann Guest.

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: Ferro non gladio
Motto Translation: By iron, not by the sword.


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    Other References

    1. Davies, R. R. The Age of Conquest: Wales, 1063-1415. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.
    2. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
    3. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    4. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
    5. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
    6. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    7. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
    8. 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.
    9. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
    10. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
    11. ...

    The Gist Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Gist 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 19 August 2013 at 17:13.

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