Let’s take a moment to look at ‘Gilbert’ simply as a word, rather
than as a surname. As such, Gilbert has
ancient Germanic origins as a combination of the words ‘gisil’ or ‘gisel’
and of ‘berht’, ‘behrt’, or ‘beraht’. This first part is where we get ‘Gil-‘, and
could mean pledge, hostage, or arrow shaft – basically some sort of issued or
given thing. The last part, the source
of ‘-bert’, means famous or bright. These
kinds of two part names (a kind of ‘kenning’) were common in Northern Europe in
the Late Iron Age and early Middle Ages.
This is attested to by such contemporary names as Beowulf, the hero, and
Ulfbehrt, a famous type of sword whose name derives from the Frankish personal
name “Bright Wolf”. Gilbert, too, was a
personal name, just like today’s John, Robert, or Donald. Sometime in Western Europe around the 1100’s
and 1200’s, when the idea of personal taxation started taking hold, it became
necessary to more precisely identify landowners. One strategy to do this was to identify
people by adding their father’s given name to their own. For example, it was not enough to say ‘William,
living in Wiltshire, owed so-and-so some money’. To more precisely identify that person, the
records might say “William, son of Richard, owed so-and-so”. This is where we ultimately get ‘Richardson’
as a last name – literally ‘Richard’s son’.
Likewise, you get from our earlier personal name examples ‘Johnson’, ‘Robertson’,
and ‘Donaldson’. These kinds of names,
taken from the father’s first name, are a kind of ‘patronymic’ surname. Gilbert, as a surname, is one of these,
having been a very popular first name at the time. This is why in addition to Gilbert, we see ‘Gilbertson’
and ‘FitzGilbert’ (from the Norman ‘fils Gilbert’, meaning ‘son of Gilbert’) as
last names to this day.
Various spellings of Gilbert occur, not only in families
having different origins, but within the same families on different documents
at different time periods. One of the
reasons for this is that English spelling was not necessarily a standardized
thing until surprisingly recently in history – less than 250 years. So, even comparatively recent American
ancestors might spell their names ‘Gilberde’ or something similar. Adding to the confusion is that medieval
records were usually written in Latin, so Gilbert was written accordingly, with
adjective endings that tended to mean ‘of Gilbert’ or ‘Gilbert-ish’. Thus, we see ‘Gilbertus’, ‘Gislebertus’, and ‘Gilberti’. To be clear, these were not alternative
spellings of Gilbert, but rather formal and legal spellings. Notably, this affected first names, too, so we
get Willelmus = William, Ricardus = Richard, Roberto = Robert, etc. In yet another layer of obfuscation, we have
to consider that the names they were Latinizing at the time were neither
standardized in English nor strictly English!
As we mentioned, Gilbert has ancient Germanic origins and had various
spellings across Europe and France at the time.
So, we start out with raw material such as ‘Gisilbehrt’, ‘Gisalbehrt’, ‘Gislebert’,
‘Guilbert’, ‘Gerebert’ and ‘Gileberte’ before even the beginnings of
established last names, let alone standard English spelling. Now, consider that my Anglo-Norman ancestors
started out speaking a dialect of French and pronounced the name something like
‘Jil-bare’ before ‘becoming’ English, and you’ll see yet another source of
It was from France that the name Gilbert really found its
way to England. Though the Domesday Book
mentions at least one pre-Norman landowner as being named Gilbert (likely a
single, personal name), the Norman conquest in 1066 ushered in the near-wholesale
replacement of Anglo-Saxon names such as Aldwyn and Aethelwold with the French
names that we call English today – John, William, Robert, Amy, and Joan. This was at a time when the Anglo-Normans
were just beginning to shift from the convention of using ‘fils-‘ or ‘fitz-‘ in
front of the father’s given name to identify the child, to the use of true
family names –kept and passed down through the male line. It is shortly thereafter, in the very
beginning of the 1200’s that we see the true English Gilbert surname start to
be recorded, establishing the family that would come to be known as the
Gilberts of Compton. Interestingly, we
don’t know if these forbearers were the first in their line to take the name. They may have been inheritors of a family
name established one or more generations earlier. Also, we don’t know if these Gilberts even
took their name from a progenitor named Gilbert. It is entirely possible that they could have
taken the name, instead, in honor of the then famous and revered Saint Gilbert
of Sepringham who founded the Gilbertine Order in England in 1130. It may even be possible that the name was
taken in honor of Gilbert Universalis, Bishop of London until his death in
While looking into the French origins of the Gilbert name, I
examined a few place names hoping for a lead:
Montgilbert, Chateau de Montgilbert, and Nesles-la-Gilberde. Pregilbert, in Bourgone, is documented to
have been named after the aforementioned Gilbert Universalis – demonstrating again
the extent of cross-Channel culture at that time. Moulins-Engilbert, also in Bourgone, has only
scant information. Most notably, it was
in the territories of the Counts of Nevere at the end of the 12th
century, and Bonne d’Artois, widow of Philip of Burgundy, married Philip the Good at the castle of Moulins-Engilbert in 1424. (Incidentally,
the castle has been carbon dated to the end of the 10th or beginning
of the 11th centuries.) Another
castle, the 13th century Chateau de Montgilbert, is strangely not in
Montgilbert. Little information is
available about either place. Nesles-la-Gilberde,
however, is known to have a 12th century church. Beyond the names themselves, there is little
connecting any of these places to the Gilbert surname.
One place of interest, however, is
located in Normandy proper (unlike any of the above). It is La Mesnil-Gilbert, the word ‘mesnil’
coming from the Latin meaning ‘a little dwelling’. Today it is a tiny administrative area, akin
to an American village or township, having a small church called Notre Dame du
Mesnil-Gilbert. According to “l’Histoire du diocèse de Coutances et d’Avranches”, Coutances
1878, page 379 (t. 2), this church was donated in 1082 to the holdings of the Collegiate
Church of Mortain by one Robert, Count of Mortain, 2nd Earl of
Cornwall. Another Robert, this one Count
of Meulan, had (according to “Dictionnaire historique de toutes les
communes du département de l’Eure histoire, géographie, statistique”) some
dealings with a man called “Gilbert du Mesnil”, or ‘Gilbert of Mesnil’ around
the 1170s or 1180s. This Gilbert,
however, could have come from anywhere, since ‘mesnil’ could refer to a number
of locations in Normandy. The bottom
line is there is no solid connection between little Mesnil-Gilbert and the
Gilbert surname so far, but it is interesting.
As I mentioned in a previous writing, a surprisingly early use of Gilbert as a surname sprang up from my studies of French origins. This was Guillaume (William) Gilbert, Bishop of Portiers from 1117 to 1124. Records show his family included parents Gilbert and Elizabeth, a brother Geoffrey, and a sister Petronille. They are, according to some sources, “from an old family of Parthenay”. Nothing is known about the parents except that they had a house there, but with a father named ‘Gilbert’ it is nearly certain that this particular patronymic line starts with him. Geoffrey Gilbert, however, was well known as one of the great Lords of Gatine, France, being a knight of Lord Lamaire, owning land all over, and dying childless. Petronille Gilbert, however, married William Chabot around 1070, having children Briant Chabot, Guillaume Chabot, and Gilbert Chabot. While clergy was not officially directed to celibacy until 1139, I can find no record of possible offspring from Bishop William Gilbert. With his brother being recorded as leaving no heirs, and his sister marrying into the Chabot family, we lose sight of any further descendants.
The best leads I have so far for a possible French (rather
than purely English) origin of the Gilbert line that would become the Gilberts
of Compton are the correctly-spelled and Normandy-located Le Mesnil-Gilbert (with
its church from at least 1082), and mentions of a Richard Gilbert, Robert
Gilbert, and a Walter (Galterius) Gilbert in Norman pipe rolls that predate the
establishment of the Gilberts of Compton and possibly allude to holdings
on both sides of the Channel. Add to
this a well-documented use of Gilbert as a surname in Western France as early
as 1098 (the first mention of Bishop William Gilbert when he was Archbishop of
Thouars), and we can say that it is certainly possible that a Gilbert line was
created and continued to exist in Northwestern France from the late 1000s (be
it of Bishop William’s descendants or not).
This line, or some branch, could have crossed the Channel sometime
between then and the very early 1200s, establishing the Gilberts of Compton
when the great grandson of William and Elizabeth Gilbert (again, not the only
coupling of a William Gilbert with an Elizabeth Chambernowne), one Sir Geoffrey
Gilbert, married lady Joan Compton – heiress of the Compton and de la Pole
families. It would be nice to make a
definite connection to a well-known subject like Bishop William, but further
insight at this point would be impossible without something like DNA testing –
he is buried just to the left of the altar at Fontevraud Abby…
Sometime around 1740, give or take a few years, there lived in the town of Wethersfield a full-blooded Narragansett Indian who went by the unlikely name of James Chaugham (probably pro- nounced “Shawm” or “Shawn”). Born on far-away Block Island, the young man had somehow found his way to Connecti-cut’s second oldest community, adopted the ways of his white neighbors and, through hard work and a pleasing personality, established himself quite well in their regard. If he fancied the English-sounding name “Chaugham,” they said, why not let him use it? From: http://www.ctmq.org/the-oddest-lighthouse/
Note from Coni: Throughout history the Chogam/Chagum name has been spelled in several forms and I am hoping with this post that I can show why all the confusion as to the spelling of our Chief James of the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Village. As you see throughout my work I use Chagum due to his cattle brand (as you will see further down).
“I believe the reason the name was changed was due to who was writing out the documents/records and that of the Author Lewis Mills and his book along with that of newspapers copying from each other throughout history inacurate facts and also a cover up via towns people to change the name’s of the town of Barkhamsted CT & of the Lighthouse Village in April of 1874”
Quote from “The Story of Connecticut” by Lewis Sprague Mills, 1932 “And there’s the Lighthouse,” rang the driver’s shout, As down the valley toiled the Hartford stage Past where the lights were feebly shining out From cabins high on Ragged Mountain side
Story goes: About the year 1740 Molly Barber of Wethersfield was prevented by her parents from marrying the man of her choice. She then declared she would marry the first man who offered himself. This man was James Chaugham, a Narragansett Indian, born on Block Island. Molly came with her husband to Barkhamsted, where they reared a family of eight children. A daughter, Mercy Chaugham, married Isaac Jacklyn, a servant of Secretary of State Wyllys of Hartford. Others who married into the Chaugham family were Wilson, Elwell, Webster, and Green, for the children of Molly and James Chaugham were respected among the white settlers as well as among the Indians. These descendants with their husbands and wives became knows as the “Lighthouse Tribe” from the fact that the Hartford and Albany stage drivers, after leaving Riverton and coming in sight of the lights which shone through the cracks and windows of their cabins, would remark, “There’s the Lighthouse, and we’re only five miles from port.” New Hartford was their destination for the night. The cellar holes and the graves of about fifty of these Indians may still be seen on the lonely western slope of Ragged Mountain in People’s Forest above Pleasant Valley in Barkhamsted. There is a plaque nearby which reads: THIS PORTION OF THE PEOPLE’S FOREST WAS GIVEN BY THE CONNECTICUT DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION 1929 NEAR THIS SPOT WAS THE SITE OF AN INDIAN VILLAGE
Per my research & that of our research team we can show a timeline for James and Molly. Here is what we have proven & documented.
Coni’s Note: “I believe” James of Barkhamsted is ACTUALLY “James Hazard” (son to Janey2 Chagum daughter of Great James & Janey1 Chagum) and it is from here we will start my path of proof for you at the Will of Janey1 Chogam whom I believe to be the “Grandmother” to our James~
I do want to note – Other theories is that James is the son of Samuel Chagum that stole the canoe on Block Island (Mother possibly Pricilla) Which “I don’t believe also to be correct” Also some believe that he could be James Noka – Son of Joseph Noka/No Cakes/Chagum – Which I am pretty sure he isn’t also”
At this time I STRONGLY believe he is gonna be the James Hazard as mention above~ From 1705 to 1760’s we find proof of ‘several possible facts’ attached to our James of Barkhamsted – but I am going to start at: March 22, 1762 in a will by Janey1 Chagam where she gives most of what she has to her “Beloved Grandson James Hazard” & why I believe this to be our James of Barkhamsted. (UNCERTAIN who his Father is at the time – possible James Hazard?)
Let’s look at the facts/proof on this: Starting with Author Jeff Howe and his book: The History and Genealogy of Descendants of Indians and Slaves of Block Island
From: Jeff Howe – To: Coni Dubois Sent: Wed, May 5, 2010 8:24:32 AM Subject: Re: Block Island Chaugums – Coni: It is ok to contact me I’m glad to see anyone doing this work and are proud of their heritage, it was buried for far to many years. Heartening to see that descendants have picked up some of my research and run with it with such enthusiasm. I was totally engrossed myself for years while doing my book on the Island Slaves and Indians, which came about while doing my own white Island family. I did not send everything I had naturally by reason of pure volume. Both my book (The History and Genealogy of Descendants of Indians and Slaves of Block Island) and the typescript book of records (Book 1) by George Burgess are in the R.I. Historical Soc. Library in Providence. As far as I know there is only one copy. My books are also in the Island Free Library and Island historical Soc. (limited hours) I might also have the book spiral bound) of Sachems you speak of called “A Genealogical Report of the Grand Royal family” Sept 1988. It might be a different source but am priviliged to have it as there are few copies outside the tribal families. A tribal member gave me a copy when she saw the work I was doing. You may also cite my work with the usual credit. My interest has shifted to local early history of my town from 1645. Although I am a frequent contributor of Black and Indian records I compile and submit to the R.I.Genealogical Society quarterly publication R.I.Roots. Fortunately the editor has even greater passion than I do for early non white history. I’m not sure what more I can offer and have limited research time now devoted to my new projects (we only have so much time on this planet). Jeff Howe From: Jeff Howe To: Coni Dubois Sent: Wed, May 5, 2010 6:54:39 PM Subject: Re: Block Island Chaugums About my book. I think I sold the last bound hardcover copy, I’ll have to look. All my books are self published and as such have limited copies. It has gotten to expensive for me to continue publishing them. I kept a master set so i can make more if needed. The problem is hard cover binding. The manufacturer refuses to sell minimum quantities so I have to purchase boxes of 100 at $10 a cover. Anyway I have done about 10 genealogies of Island families and they are in the Island Free Library on Block Island . I also had done a slide show of the book on Indians and Slaves. George Burgess’s book 1 is the transcription of Block Islands very first town book starting in the late 1600’s. These are the copies I sent to Barkhamsted. It is an indexed thick hardcover bound single copy that is only in the R.I. Historical Society Library in Providence. The original town book is unavailable to the public and almost unreadable anyway. George’s book is thankfully the best transcription. The information in my book was gathered from 300 years of town books read on microfilm. Many pages are almost unreadable from ink fade and also ink bleedthru. Anything we know about the Chagums is in Burgess’s book or mine. The name dissappears fairly early from the R.I. area. The Island Chagums were Manasee, a sub tribe of the Narragansetts (sort of), actually I believe most of the island Indians were more closely related to the Eastern Niantics from Westerly R.I. and into Ct. along the shoreline to Groton. The historical relationships within the local tribes is a very complicated subject I don’t even understand sometimes. It’s mostly political alliances done thru war or marriage whichever suits the need.
Note from Coni: Picked up his book – The History and Genealogy of Descendants of Slaves and Indians from the Island of “Manissee” Block Island. (Cost: $50.00 & a road trip to Rhode Island – He autographed this book for me – wonderful man – was an honor meeting him~)
7/23/2010 – Jeff emailed – Sent: Friday, July 23, 2010 5:21 PM Subject: LOVED YOUR BOOK!! Via Jeff Howe to Coni: You can do anything you like with the information Coni, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. You are quite lucky in that you were able to trace back as far as you have, many can’t even get back to the 1700’s never mind 1600’s. – Jeff
7/27/2011 Email from Jeff Howe/Author in regards to my search for Jane Chagum – I don’t know if you had found her will in Charlestown 1756 (I think) it was published (abstracted) in R.I. Genealogical Register vol 7 #1 but basically names her daughter Janey Chagum, lands given to her by Tom Ninnegret in Ch. but says her father George Ninegret gave her lands in New Shoreham. Jeff
Abstract of Will for Janey Chagam RIGR Vol 7:Chagam, Janey, female, Indian, of Ch. Will dated 22 Mar 1762, proved 1st Mon Apr 1762, pg 55. Mentions: Daughter Janey Chagam. Grandson James Hazard son of daughter Janey Chagam. Land in Ch belonging to Neigrett & his tribe in Indians, said land now in the possession of James Chagam & was given me by the Present Sacham Thomas Nenigrett, Father George Nenigrett. Land in New Shoreham. Witn: Peleg Cross, Jonathan Ladd, John Welch.
Will of Janey Chagam – Transcribed by Coni Dubois 8/8/2011 – blanks are words I just can’t make out~
Charlestown March of 22 day in the Second year of the _ King George the third over Great Brittan and in the year of our Lord Christ 1762 I Janey Chagam of Charleston in King County in the Colony of Rhode Island (of) being of perfect mind and memory do make and ordain this my last will and testament that unto (into) say first I will that all my funeral charges and just debts be paid in reasonable time after my deacas by my execater hereafter named out of my estate. Items I give and bequeath into my will beloved Grandson James Hazard son of my daughter Janey Chagam all my personal estate item I likewise give to my said Grandson all my rights and property of lands in said Charleston belonging to Nenigrett and his tribe of Indians said lands that I claime in now in the posesion of Jams Chogam and was given to me by the present Sacham Thomas Nenegrett Father George Nenigrett Item I likewise give to my said Grandson James Hazard all my right and tile of land lying on New Shoreham in the county of Newport and Colony above said to him his heirs and asign forever item my will is that my Grandson James keep and maintain me in sufficient meet, drink, clothing, washing and lodging during my natural life and at my deceas to give a decent buryal and I due appoint ordain my said Grandson James my whole and sole Executor of this my last Last will and testament hereby acknowledging and Disannulling all other former wills Leaguels and bequeaths ratifying and confirming this and do other to be my last will and testament in witness where of I have hereunto set my hand and seal the date afore written Sign Sealed and delivered by the Janey Chogam as her last will and testament In presence of us The word and property was (inbrothed?) before signing and sealing Peleg Cross Her Jonathan Ladd Janey X Chogam (+) seal (which is a circle with a cross in it) John Welch Mark ____ (?) Town Clerk
Now let’s take a look at the land that James Chagum of Barkhamsted was involved in which gives us a time frame of 1770’s to 1790’s in Litchfield CT. As you see below we have several spellings of the name in civil/documented records.
From the 1770’s we have several documents to show how the name was mixed up and written in several forms.
Starting with Noadiah Hooker in Dec of 1770 and 1st recorded land transaction and where Chagum was spelled in several forms in one document…
To all the People to whom these Presents shall Come, Greeting Know Ye, That I Noadiah Hooker of the town of Farmington in the County of Hartford and Colony of Connecticut in New England. For the Consideration of five pound of Shillings full money Recieved to: full Satisfaction, of James Chaugum of New Hartford in the County of Litchfield and Colony of Connecticut in New England Do Give, Grant, Bargain, Sell, and Confirm unto the said James Chaughin one Certain piece or parcel of Land Situate in Sd town of New Hartford sd land formly Belonging to Heith (?) Esq Lewis of sd New Hartford ____ for Nehemiah (?) Lewis & Phinchas (?) Lewis all of Farmington as by the records of the town of New Hartfor will fully appear To have and to hold the above Granted and Bargained Premises, with the Appurtenance thereof, unto him the said James Chaugham his Heirs and Assigns for ever, to his and their own proper Use and Behoof. And also the said Noadiah Hooker Do for my self and Heirs, Excutors and Administrators, Covenat with the said James Chaughim Heirs and ASsign that at and until the Ensealing these presents I am (missing lines) Right to Bargain and Sell the same in Manner and Forms as is above Written and the same is free of all Incumbrances whatsoever. And Futhermore, I the said Noadiah Hooker do by these Presents bind my self and Heirs for ever, to Warrant and Defend the above Granted and Bargained Premisses to him the said James Chaugm …. Heirs and ASsigns, against all Claims and Demands whatsoever. In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the 11 Day of December in the 11 year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the third of Great Britain, &c King anno Domini, 1770 Signed, Sealled and Delievered in Presence of Elijah Cowles James Weedsworth (?) Noadiah Hooker ( ) Hartford County of Farmington Decembr 11th 1770 personally appeared Noadiah Hooker Signer and sender of the for going and acknowledged the same ___ to ___ andDecd Before me James Weedsworth (?) Just Peace
2nd: Sep 16, 1771 – Cornelius Indian to James Chaughom 40 acres – vol: 3 pg: 219 – Have this deed – N2T Notes from Coni:1739 Cornelius bought this land plus 4 acres from Samuel State. Also there is property that Jonathan Merrill sold to Kaceton of Hartford/41 acres in 1737 then 37.5 acres to Corneluis, Mary, Sunkaway, Patience & Nawas in 1758
Moving thru the records let’s take a look at the SELL of the above lands of 34 acres of that of James Chogan to Oliver Delown/land of N. Hooker (1770)
June 21, 1776 – James Chogam to Olive Delown 34 acres – land of N. Hooker (1770) vol 4 pg 28 – Have this deed James Chogam to Oliver Delown Recd May 30th 1778 Know all men by these present that I James Chaugon of New Hartford In the County of Litchfield and Colony of Connecticut in New England for for the Consideration of the Sum of Eighteen pounds Lawfull money in _ Recievd to my full Satisfaction of Oliver Delown of Hebron in the County of Hartford and Coloney afore Sd Do give, grant Bargain Sell Convey & Confirm unto him the said Oliver Delown and to his Heirs and ASsigns foreever one Certain Pe_ or Parcel of Land Lying and being in the Town of New Hartford in the County of Litchfield and is Bounded as followeth viz bounded South of the heirs of Oliver Lewis _ and west on the River North on McKight Land & East on a highway and Contains about thirty four acres of Land to have and hold the above granted and Described with the Appurtenances thereof unto him the said oliver Delown and to his heirs and ASsigns to his & there only use benefit and Behold forever and also I the said James Chogum Do for my Self my heirs Escutors and Doministrators Covenant with the Sd Oliver Delown & with his heirs and assigns that at and _ the Ensealing of these presents I am seized of the promises as a good indefeasable estate in the simple and have good Right to (Bargain-crossed out) _ sam in manor & form as is above written & that the same is free from all Incumbrances Whatsoever & furthermore I the Sd James Chogam Do by these presents Bind my Self and my heirs forever to warrant & Defend the above granted and Bargained __ to him of sd Pliver Belowm and to his heirs ASsigns against all Claims & Demands Whatsoever In witness whereof I have here unto Set my hand and seal this 21st Day of June 1776 Signed Sealed and Dilliverd his In Presence of James X Chogan (Seal) mark
As you see that his names was written differently every time… I believe most on the fact of the sound of it “Shaw-Gum” or “Sha-Gam” when spoken.
Purchase of Ragged Mountain which became known as the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Village – Abraham Kellogg to James Chogam – 70 Acres – Volume:1 Pages: 205 & 206
May 3, 1779 – Abraham Kellogg to James Chogam 70 acres – vol:1 pg: 205 & 206 – Have this deed To all peoples to whom these Presents Shall Come – Greeting Know ye that I Abraham Kellog of New Hartford in the County of Litchfield and State of Connecticut for the Consideration of twenty one Pounds Lawful money Recieved to my full Satisfaction of James Chogam of New Hartford in the County and State afore said Do Give Grant Bargain Sell and Confirm unto the Said James Chogan and his heirs forever a Certain Piece of Land Lying in the town of Berkhamsted in said County Butted and Bounded as _ (viz) East and west on Highways North on Nathll Gillet South on James Mc_____ Land Lyeth at the place Called Ragged Mountain and Contains Seventy acres to have and the above Granted and Bargained Premisses with _ appurtenance there of unto him the Said James and his heirs and assigns for his and their own proper use and Behoof and also I the said Do for my self and my heirs Excutors and administrators with the said James and his heirs Executors and administrators with the said James and his heirs and assigns that it and until Ensealing of this Presence I was well seized of the premisses and Indefeasible Estate in fee- Simple and have good rights to have and sell the same in manner and form as is above written that the same is free of all Incumebrances whatsoever & further I the said Abraham Do by these Presents Bind my self and my heirs forever to warrant and Defend the above Granded and Bargained Premises to him the said James and his heirs assigns __ Claims and Demands whatsoever in Witness where of I have hereunto my hand and seal the 3 day of March in the year of our Lord 1779 Signed, Sealed and Delivered in Presence of Zebulon Merrill Abram Kellogg (Seal) Hannah Merrill Litchfield County of New Hartford March 3, 1779 Personally appeared Abram Kellog Signer and Sealer of the foregoing Instrument and acknowledged the Same to be his free act and Deed Before me, Zebulon Merrill Just. Peace The foregoing Deed was Given in for Record June 22, 1785 and Recorded by me John Crane Town Register
At this present time we are only looking for true descendants – those that are verified through my (Coni Dubois) research will be the only ones added at the moment – I have done extensive Genealogy research on the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Village and have most of the genealogy lines done. If I have already been in contact with you and have worked you in my files – please click join link above to get added asap – needing all branches of the Chagum’s.
Note:I am the Barber line – I descend from Hannah Chagum & Reuben Barber. also want to note – I have my Uncle Russ Allen’s, My 1/2 Brother Kenny Gilbert, My cousin Penny Carney & 2nd cousin Tanna Chesser along with my DNA for our lines already in our NEW DNA Project. Just needing to add more of the branch lines to get this all up and running! Please consider joining~
I have to say a BIG THANK you to FamilyTreeDNA and their project team!They have put this all together for us and made it possible for us to go further in our researchand with the help of this DNA project we may be able to break through the brick walls that we have in our research. Coni Dubois Barkhamsted Lighthouse Village DNA Project Coordinator
My quest to discover the origins of the Gilbert family of Compton has been, so far, mostly comprised of proving the null hypothesis –that is, I’ve been debunking largely unchallenged legends and unsupported hypotheses. (Chief among these was finding that there was probably no Gilbert of Manadon alive (apart from a guy’s first name) in 1066, and that the Gilberts of Compton likely did not descend from Gilbert Crispin of Brionne.) However, the net result has been zero progress on actually identifying who the ancestors of William Gilbert (b.1204) might be, aside from generally lower nobility of Norman heritage. I did, though, identify some slightly older references to the Gilbert surname in Wiltshire. Considering the source of William Gilbert is claimed by the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland to be found in the Curia Regis Roles of Wilts as Willelmus Gilberti, the Devon line might just originate in Wiltshire. Though I have not yet found the exact reference above, I did find in the 1916 Wiltshire Notes and Queries, under the heading ‘Sum of the Fees of the Abbess of Wilton’, the following entry:
“Will’us Gilberti et Marg’ Balun tenent in Swaleweclive duas partes feodi unius militis de Rob’to de Mandevill et ipse de Rege.”
Though the entry wasn’t dated, I cross referenced it with the Registers of the Board of Chalke, 1538-1780, and examined the other names in the text, and concluded the entry looks to be a snippet from a much older document called the Testa Nevill, covering transactions from 1198 to 1292. I then did, in fact, find the exact entry in the Testa Nevill. It is hard to be certain, but this William Gilbert from Wiltshire could be an ancestor of the one cited in the Curia Regis Rolls of Wiltshire, too. (My Latin is crap, but I think the entry reads “William Gilbert and Margaret Balun held, in Swaleweclive, two knights fees of Robert de Mandeville and from the King.”)
Having seemingly exhausted my leads in Devon and Wilts, I decided to start looking for the Gilbert surname in Normandy and try to work from old-to-new to make family connections. After the above reference to Gilberts in England, this Testa Nevill entry being around 1235 or 1236, I was stunned to find even more and older uses of the surname in France. Here are the ones I have found so far, bearing in mind that there is no connection to the Gilberts of Compton yet:
Ricardus Gillebertus (Richard Gilbert) – Mentioned in an 1198 Pipe Roll from Normandy and, according to another book, probably as early as 1180 in another Roll.
Willelmus Giselbertus (William Gilbert) – Mentioned in the same Pipe Roll as Ricardus Gillebertus, making him living in 1198.
Galterius Gislebertus (Walter Gilbert) – He is mentioned in a short entry in the 1198 Pipe Roll, along with Ricardus and Willelmus, above.
A fantastic find, and so far the oldest use of the Gilbert surname I’ve ever seen, was that of Guillaume I Gilbert de Ragoles, Bishop of Poitiers from 1117 to 1124. Not to be confused with the more famous Gilbert of Poitiers (also Bishop of Poitiers 1142-1154), this Guillaume (William) Gilbert was said by at least one source to have been archbishop in Thouars, France, in 1098! According to this same source, Archives Historiquesdu Poitou, 1895, Guillaume had a brother, Geoffroi (Geffrey) Gilbert, and came from a family in Parthenay, France. Not only did I not expect to find a reference to the Gilbert surname 100 years earlier than the last, but I did not expect such a well-documented find. His rescue from obscurity was due to the meticulous record keeping of the early Catholic Church, referenced in sources I used such as the Dictionnaire universel, dogmatique, canonique,historique, géographique et chronologique, des sciences ecclésiastiques, Volume 6, 1765, a similar volume from 1827, and Chartes originales antérieuresà 1121 conservées en France.
My next enterprise will be to see if the decedents of any of these very early Gilberts can be traced. I’m suspecting that the father of William Gilbert, born 1204 according to Wiltshire records, may have been the William Gilbert mentioned in Testa Nevill around 1236, or at least a close relative. It’s also possible that these two are one and the same, the first not being born in 1204, but being mentioned in 1204. It may even be possible that Willelmus Gislebertus of Normandy, mentioned in 1198, was the same as the other 1198 William in Wiltshire, owning lands on each side of the English Channel. My working hypothesis now is that the Gilberts of Compton descend from a line of Gilberts that moved from Normandy to Wiltshire sometime around the late 1100’s and eventually marrying into the Champernowne family in the early 1200’s in Devon. There is some evidence suggesting that at least Roberto Gerebert (Robert Gilbert) was conducting business in both Wiltshire and Devon during that period (1189-1216), so it is entirely possible that the family had strong connections in both places, and likely across the Channel too. It is even possible that Robert is the progenitor of the line. All of these are possible leads, but for now I’m happy to have found a Gilbert (relative or no) alive as far back as 1098.
I’m pretty sure I upset an English genealogist, who specializes in the Gilberts of Compton, by strongly suggesting that the dearly-held theory that the family descends from the Fits-Gilbert brothers of Devon is probably untrue. I know he was upset because he stopped responding to my email! This might be just one way we students of the Gilbert line have been tricked by earlier sources who, well, just didn’t have the tools that we have today. One way in which I’ve been misled over the last year or so of research is that some Gilberts are referred to as ‘of Greenway’. A pretty simple search reveals that Otho and Katherine (Champernowne) Gilbert (this Otho not being the Otho who was Sheriff of Devon) had built a home on this height overlooking the River Dart. Famously, this manor, if not the original Tudor structure, became the home of Agatha Christie in 1938. Also famously, half-brother adventurers Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Humphrey Gilbert (both Katherine’s sons) resided there.
However, books such as the 1866 A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, drawing from much older sources, state “This Otis or Otho Gilbert [High Sheriff of Devonshire] inherited Greenway, about four miles from Dartmouth.” This was obviously erroneous as the text goes on to identify this same man as the father of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, which he was not. Nonetheless, I kept seeing older Gilberts, whose lives predated the earliest mention of Greenway, as named ‘of Greenway’. Ascribing this obvious anachronism to the aforementioned mistaken 1866 text, repeated throughout later sources, I ignored all pre-1493 mentions of Greenway (1493 being where sources place the first mention of Greenway on Dart). This was my own mistake.
My lovely theory started to unravel in another somewhat conflated but ultimately hard to ignore text. This was the Magna Britannia (1806-1822) which stated “The manor of Greenway, which had been given by William the Conqueror to Walter de Douay, was for many descents in the family of Gilbert” and “The ancestor of this ancient family [Gilbert], who was of Greenway in the reign of Edward II…” That would have placed Greenway in the hands of the Gilbert family between 1308 and 1327. I puzzled over this entry because it didn’t seem to be a simple repeat of the usual mistake. This seemed like a claim I had never seen before. I decided to track own the source.
To me it was clear that any reference to land grants by William the Conqueror to one of his knights (in this case, Walter de Douay who likely accompanied him at Hastings) would be recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. A relatively simple search of electronic versions of Domesday revealed that the Conqueror had, in fact, dispossessed one unfortunate Anglo-Saxon by the name of Athelsige of Greenway Manor and handed it to Walter de Douay. That substantiated a bit of the Britannica’s claim, and immediately seemed to make other claims to the earliest mention of Greenway moot. However, I noticed that this Greenway was listed in Domesday under Axminster Hundred (a ‘hundred’ being an ancient administrative district). The Greenway overlooking the River Dart was clearly located in the Haytor Hundred, while Axminster would be in the vicinity of modern day Luppitt in Devon. These two places are about 60 miles apart. A perusal of The Manors & Origin of the Name Luppitt: An Extract from the book ‘Luppitt: Parish, Church and People‘ and Nikolaus Pevsner & Bridget Cherry’s The Buildings of England confirmed, however, that there is indeed a second Greenway near Luppitt, it was called Grenoveia in Domesday, it was owned by de Douai, and that it is still represented in the name of a large farm there.
So, it turns out that there are, in fact, two Greenways located in Devon. One, near Dartmouth in the old Hundred of Haytor, is well documented to have been in Gilbert hands around Tudor times. The other, represented by a country farm and estate near Luppitt in the old Axminster Hundred, was handed to a Norman knight by William the Conqueror just after 1066. The latter, while not definitively tied to the Gilbert name, may be crucial in identifying the family’s origins. An examination of the deeds, taxes, and owners of this less-famous Greenway may provide clues to where William Gilbert (b.1204) came from.