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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.
Thayer Family info Packet
Thayer Families in/around NY & MI areas
Donated to: Coni Dubois – Aug 4, 2018
By: Huron Shores Genealogical Society
6010 N. Skeel Ave,
Oscoda, MI 48750
FROM THE COLLECTION OF:
Charles Birnbaum – Society member – of Tawas City MI
As I wrap up my main research on the Lighthouse Tribe I can’t help feeling there is something more to the story…
I have uncovered a clue…
AND it all begins at the Indian village called: Satan’s Kingdom.
At one time Satan’s Kingdom was 1st known as Sachem’s Kingdom – is this possibly a link to the Narragansett Sachem line? Is it tied to the Block Island Sachem-Chagum Pond story? I believe it is~
Sachem Kingdom name was later changed to Satan’s Kingdom due to the village being taken over by stage coach robbers, bandits, thieves and ruffians~ (See Satan’s Kingdom write up below)
Well… I decided to dig a lil deeper and… I think I found something…
Let’s look at the facts on James Chagum of the Barkhamsted Lighthouse:
Let’s start at the resided fact above:
Per Lewis Mill’s Poem – Chief Cherry was a part of the Barkhamsted story… so let’s start with him and who he was? What tribe he was Chief of? And his time frame….
As you can see by this map – Connecticut was a huge area.
In 1625 (map above) the area that is marked with the red dot – is area that becomes “Sachem/Satan’s Kingdom” and the “Barkhamsted Lighthouse” area in the 1700’s.
1. In 1661 Chief’s of the Massacoes/Massaco:
Main Chief: Manahanoose along with Pacatoco, Pamatacount & Youngcoout. They were apart of the Wappinger branch of New York & Connecticut. (via 1661 deed below)
(Want to note) in 1661 Manahanoose destroyed “pitch & tar” of that of John Griffin and due to this – it is the reason for this 1881 deed – where they give him the land to pay for it.
2. In 1680 is also another deed – Land given to Maj. John Talcott, Benj Newberry, Danl Clarke and John Gilbert – Deed approved by Waquaheag (alias Chief Cherry) (via 1680 deed below)
Here is where the story takes a turn……
WHO is this Neschegan? Is he possibly the Ancestor of the “UNCLE Shoukum/Shonquin” in the “Satan’s Kingdom” write up?
I believe he is connected somehow to the Chagum’s~
James Chagum Land’s around Satan’s Kingdom
Now let’s add a spin to this story – (see event’s above)
The Praying Indians and Barkhamsted Connection
I fully believe that our James Chagum is a part of the Praying Indian People.
We have Samson Occum visiting him and the Lighthouse People on a couple of occasions. James was known for being a “Christian Indian” and so was that of the Lighthouse People. James & Molly’s Son in Law: William Wilson was also one of these preachers. He and his wife Polly lived many years at the Lighthouse site along with later owning most of the land into their old age.
I have a lot of work ahead of me to prove all of this…. but I believe I am close to narrowing down the tribe that James and Molly actually ran to after they were married. I do not believe they were in direct contact with “Chief Cherry” himself as written in Lewis Mill’s book. BUT do believe however that it is the correct tribe and that a part of this tribe was located at the Sachem/Satan’s Kingdom area.
’ve recently received an ancestry composition report from 23&Me and, much as I expected based on earlier paper-based research, my genetics are mostly Northwestern European in origin – to the tune of about 83%. Of course, English/Irish ancestry dominates the scene, the venerable old Gilbert line being of English origin 800 years ago. Naturally, Scandinavian and French weigh in, the Gilberts being of Norman French, and therefore some Viking, descent. And, perhaps ho-humedly, German comprises a huge chunk of my DNA, with families recently contributing to my line having names like Scheetz, Krouse, and Kahl – pretty standard for Northern Indiana. However, just as some white supremacists have recently discovered African or Jewish ancestors in their DNA, I had several surprises of my own: no Native American showed up, but I’m probably 15% Bohemian!
Like many Americans, we presume to have at least some trace ancestry that links us with the extirpated-yet-not-gone Native American peoples. These days, since the reexamination of race relations throughout the 60s and 70s, it is not only acceptable but downright a matter of pride to be of Native blood. However, this was not always the case. Apparently, in some circles anyway, Native ancestry was something to conceal as a social stigma. Weirder yet, it may have been the case that descendants of immigrants from poorer countries would actually tell their children that they were of Native American stock to conceal their humble or embarrassing roots in the Old World. While it might be the case that today’s genetic testing services self-select to exclude Native DNA samples from their databases due to cost, and therefore cannot identify such in my own sample, the family legend was that Great Grandma Tarant was Blackfoot. The significant Balkans/Central European component to my genetic profile, however, along with the absence of Native American ancestry, compelled me to track down where that came from and where the Native American went. As it turns out, Coni possessed the document written in Great Grandma’s hand that lists her parents as having both been born in Bohemia. So, surprisingly, I have Slavic ancestry – news to me.
A little cherry on top of all this genetic testing came as I searched 23&Me’s quite useful ‘Genetic Relatives’ database. This is an opt-in database where people can share their 23&Me results with whomever else is on the same database and shares at least some component of their DNA. Most of the 1056 people sharing my genes on there are people I never heard of and have no idea of how we would be related. I did come upon one Ulrich surname on there, which intrigued me since one of my oldest and closest friends shares that name. From chatting with this person, I found out her family is originally from Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan. Happily, then, I am likely distant cousins with the woman I’ve been calling “Little Sis” all these years! This, along with all my other genealogy research has really enlightened me to a single important fact: the farther back you go, the bigger your family gets!
Please let me know what you think 🤔
➡️UPDATE: I found another newspaper folder in my files. I have added SEVERAL older articles along with a bunch of here and there’s.
Note from Coni: If you find/have anymore please keep us in mind! Will continue to add to this as I find them~
Kenny has invited me to come to his Symposium on Lighthouse People April 13, 2018 – unsure at this time if can make it… But planning to try my best!
Via email: Kenneth Feder to Coni Dubois – 9/27/17
Some news; I have submitted a symposium to the annual meetings of the Society for American Archaeology, April 11-15, in Washington, DC. I’m attaching a list of the papers for the symposium. And yup; I’ll be spreading the word about the Lighthouse site, community, and family to an international conference of archaeologists. I’m going to focus on how archaeology and family have connected. There are pics of you! I won’t know until sometime in December if the symposium will be accepted.
I have no idea if you might like to come to DC and watch the symposium if it runs.
Lots of sessions, lots of Native people attend.
Via email: Kenneth Feder to Coni Dubois – 12/31/17
The symposium I mentioned to you has been accepted for the annual meetings of the Society for American Archaeology in DC! My presentation is about the Lighthouse!
Hope all is well! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
More on: Kenneth Feder
few articles ago, I talked about the possibility that a 200 year old assumption about the origins of the Gilbert surname might be erroneous. The well-repeated story is that since the Gilberts of Compton came from Devonshire, and Devonshire was also home to two famous brothers bearing the name FitzGilbert, then naturally these brothers are the progenitors of the surname. I do not assert that this is impossible, but after looking at about 280 descendants of these brothers (what I estimate to be about 80% of the number of actual descendants in the 8 generations I looked at), there is just no evidence. So, we come upon a major problem in the discovery of the Gilbert family origin: trusted sources might just plain be wrong.
In the example above, a manuscript written between 1573 and 1620 contained a passage that said someone called Gilbert (not necessarily a surname) possessed a Devonshire manor called Manaton sometime between 1042 and 1066. Later writers pointed out that the Domesday Book of 1086 showed the above FitzGilbert brothers (FitzGilbert not being a surname) came to own Manaton sometime after 1066. Despite the previous manuscript’s assertion that other men followed Gilbert in owning the manor sometime after 1066, the above described error was stamped into many peerage and pedigree books. Gilbert was just a popular first name at the time of no last names, and FitzGilbert just meant ‘son of Gilbert’. This is just one of several big errors out there.
Another major issue with source material on the Gilberts of Compton is that there appears to have been two women named Elizabeth Champernowne, and both had fathers named Oliver! However, they were born roughly 120 years apart. How can this be? Well at the time Elizabeth and Oliver were pretty common names, and it seemed to be the habit among Anglo-Normans to honor ancestors by passing names down for generations. For example, just in my single patrilineage, there are seven Williams, four Thomases, and four Johns (including this one). Both Elizabeths appear to descend from the Dukes of Normandy, and married into the Gilbert line at two points five generations apart. The younger Elizabeth (1334-1380) appears to be the elder Elizabeth’s (ca. 1210 – ?) great grandniece. The elder appears to have married the mysterious William Gilbert (1204/1210-1270), and the younger his great-great grandson, Sir William Gilbert (1327-1380). Sources continuously conflate these two women.
A final obstacle to building a clear understanding of the true relationship of these ancestors is simple: people lie. Not only are many ancestors simply overlooked in historical records (for example, even King Henry I’s illegitimate son, Gilbert FitzRoy (1130-1142), has no substantial record), but the stories of what child belonged to whom might be questionable. In a time of multiple mistresses among the landed gentry, one might assume this to be commonplace. For the Gilberts of Compton, one of our biggest claims to fame is the explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert (1539-1583). His mother, Katherine Champernowne (1519-1594) remarried after the death of his father, Otho Gilbert of Compton (1513-1547). She married a Member of Parliament named Walter Raleigh. Their son was the famous explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, half-brother to Humphrey but not a blood relation to the Gilberts of Compton – or so the story goes. I leave you with this portrait of a young Sir Walter Raleigh next to my son, the 20th descendant of Sir Otho Gilbert, Sheriff of Devon (1418-1492) who is also Raleigh’s half-brother Humphrey’s great grandfather:
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