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Family spelling variants includes Jelbert, Gilbard, Gillbard, Gilburt, Gilbart, Guilbert

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Recorded as Gilbert and the patronymic Gilbertson, this is an English surname, but one recorded throughout the British Isles. It is of Norman-French and even earlier pre 7th century Germanic origins. It derives from the personal name variously spelt as Gislebert, Guilbert or Gilebert. However spelt it is a compound with the elements "gisil", meaning a noble youth, and "berht", bright or famous. It is first recorded in England in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 and in the Latinized form of Gislebertus, and appears as a surname in the early 13th century (see below). The given name as Gilbert was very popular in medieval England, partly owing to the fame of St...


Gilbert (Variants: Guilbert, Gilbart, Gilburt, Gillbard, Gilbard, Jelbert)

A relationship name, from a Norman-English origin, French, and North German: from Giselbert, a Norman personal name composed of the Germanic elements gisil meaning ‘pledge’, ‘hostage’, ‘noble youth’ (Giesel) + berht ‘bright’, ‘famous’ derived from the Saxon Geele, yellow. Continental Germanic Gisilbert and Gislebert.

From the personal name Old Norse, Gisli-bjártr; from the Flemish, Gillebaert and from the French, Gibert, Gilbert.

The son of Gib or Gilbert. The Gilbertines were an English order, founded in the 12th century by St. Gilbert, who was born at Sempringham, Lincolnshire There were numerous convents of this order at the time of the suppression. The name was naturally popular. The nick, was Gib, the chief diminutive 'on'; hence Gibbon. The different corruptions of Gibbon are given in their place.

Many other names have been founded upon Gilbert, including Gibb, Gibbs, Gybbes, Gibbard, Gibbings, Gibbonson, Gibson, Gill, Gilks, Gilpin to name a few.

Also an Americanised form of one or more like-sounding Jewish surnames.

Early bearers of the surname include: Willelmus Gilberti, 1202 in Curia Regis Rolls (Wilts); Robert Gylebert, 1235 in Ancient Deeds v (Norfolk); Robert Gilberd, 1240 in Ramsey Cartulary (Cambs); William Gilbert, 1290 in Crowland Abbey Estates (Cambs); John Gilbard, 1304 in Feet of Fines (Suffolk); Margery Gilberdes, 1330 in Ancient Deeds vi (Wilts); Henry Gylbart, 1332 in Subsidy Rolls (Staffs); Otes Gylbert, 1459, probably identical with Ottes Ghilberd’, 1488 in Feet of Fines (Devon).

In 1891, the surname was recorded in England and Wales with 16,987 occurrences and a further 667 in Scotland. In 1881, the surname was frequent across England and Wales, especially in Cornwall with 914 occurrences. It was also recorded as a top surname in Plymouth, located in the county of Devon.

In 1881, Agricultural Labourer, Farmer and Labourer were the top 3 reported jobs worked by Gilbert, with Agricultural Labourer being the most common. A less common occupation was Carpenter.

Sir Joseph Henry Gilbert (1817 – 1901) was an English chemist, noteworthy for his long career spent improving the methods of practical agriculture. He worked for over fifty years at the Agricultural Experiment Station (AES), established by John Bennet Lawes, until his death. The work he carried out in collaboration with Lawes involved the application of chemistry, meteorology, botany, animal and vegetable physiology, and geology to the methods of practical agriculture. He was also a fellow of the Royal Society.

More recently, Rhod Gilbert (b.1968), a famous Welsh comedian, born in 1968 and best known for his stand up comedy and previously presenting panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

1881, 1891 Census

1881 Census in Cornwall

1881 Census in Devon

Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003

Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016

1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain

1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain


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