The name ‘William Gilbert’ arises from the mists of Dartmoor, a place I’d visited once – before I even knew it was likely the land from which the Gilbert surname originated. I was visiting friends in nearby Tavistock, back in 1999, and they took me exploring the surprisingly still-wild moorland full of castle ruins and stone monoliths. I didn’t know that just on the other side of the moor, about 25 miles, was Compton Castle, medieval seat of the Gilbert family. Closer yet lay the little parish of Ilsington. The conquering Normans wrote this as ‘Ilestentonia’ in the famous Domesday Book in 1086. Even earlier, the Saxons had divided their land in units called ‘hundreds’. The land around Ilestintonia was called the Hundred of Teignbridge. This Hundred encompassed the manor and lands called Manadon (now Manaton). This holding is the only connection, so far, to the possible origins of William Gilbert of Compton (1204/10 – 1270).
While I’m still in the process of tracking down the source document that identifies this first William Gilbert to more recent genealogists (probably the marriage record to Elizabeth Champernowne b. 1210), it is interesting to note that some sources claim the first mention of ‘Gilbert’ as a surname was in 1202. This much repeated claim is said to derive from the mention of one ‘Willelmus Gilberti’ (a commonly Latinized rendering of ‘William Gilbert’) in the Curia Regis Rolls for Wiltshire (a set of legal records) from the reign of King John. I have personally searched the Curia Regis for the period noted and found no such reference. (There may be another document more specific to Wiltshire that I’m not aware of yet, however.) I did, however, find one Willelmus Gislebertus (another common Latinization of ‘William Gilbert’) who, according to the Pipe Rolls of Normandy for 1198, was paying taxes. It was around this time in Europe, anyway, that people began using ‘last names’ due to the introduction of personal taxation. While this may be one of, if not the, earliest uses of ‘Gilbert’ as a surname, it is impossible to tell if this William is related to our William Gilbert in any way. (I am investigating an account in an 1899 volume on pre-Revolutionary American ancestry of a “Gilbert of Compton in the parish of Manadon, Devon, in 1068”, which I find dubious due to many large mistakes elsewhere in the work.)
Back to the land holdings near Compton Castle. Many sources quote an author named Wescott (unidentified so far) who said that the original Gilberts “…possessed lands in Manaton (in or near Dartmoor) in Edward the Confessor’s days.” The earliest reference I’ve found to this is in C.S. Gilbert’s An Historical Survey of the County of Cornwall, 1817, but I have not found Wescott’s original works or sources. If this is true, it puts the Gilbert surname in Dartmoor as early as 1042 to 1066. What we do know is that ‘Gilbert’, in its many forms, was a popular first name among a prominent Norman family in and around Dartmoor during that period. One exceptional source is the Domesday Book (1086), which tells us that two noble brothers, Baldwin “the Sheriff” Fitz-Gilbert (c. 1022 – 1090), and Richard Fitz-Gilbert (c. 1035 – 1090) controlled huge amounts of land in Devon. Baldwin himself built Okehampton Castle on the north edge of Dartmoor and held 159 manors in Devon, to include the one know as Manadon. It is more than likely that the genealogists and historians of more recent centuries were referring to these two brothers, who accompanied William the Conqueror in 1066 and were duly rewarded with holdings in Devon (Baldwin and his descendants being made perpetual sheriffs of Devon), when speaking of the origin of the Gilberts at Manadon.
While I have yet to find any direct genealogical link to the Fitz-Gilbert brothers, it is very likely that our William Gilbert of Compton descended from this family. One cannot discount the frequency with which ‘Gilbert’ and ‘Fitz-Gilbert’ (‘Fitz’ meaning ‘son of’) appear in their family tree, that tree having root in Devon – the home of William. It reasons geographically as well, Compton Castle (and the Lady Elizabeth) being only a few short miles from Dartmoor and positively surrounded by Fitz-Gilbert holdings. Perhaps William Gilbert, the taxpayer of 1198, is somehow a link in all of this.
Coni’s previous work on the patrilineage of the Gilbert family makes my job a lot easier as I search for our most ancient ancestors. Her work has solidly identified the 15 generations of Gilberts who ascend from my children through Thomas Gilbert, the first of the line to immigrate to America. Considering the time of his arrival in Connecticut (probably the early to mid-1600s), and the ‘biblical’ names of two of his sons (Ezekiel and Obadiah), it is likely Thomas was part of the great Protestant exodus from England. Incidentally it was those two sons’ names, a conspicuous break from earlier Gilbert tradition, that helped Douglas Richardson (researcher for The American Genealogist) identify Thomas as being the son of Richard and Mary (Morken) Gilbert of Yardley, England. With the Atlantic Ocean thus crossed, research on the Old World Gilberts could begin.
Fortunately for me, the Gilbert line from which Richard descends is a very well-known, and thus well-researched, family. Again benefiting from the work of those who came before me, it is fairly clear that Richard is one of 12 more generations known collectively as the Gilberts of Compton Castle. These Gilberts, being landed gentry in Devonshire after the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066, would most certainly be of Norman-French heritage (the previous Anglo-Saxon landholders being thereafter almost entirely dispossessed). This Norman ancestry is also evident in the first names of these Gilberts (William, Geoffrey, Thomas, Otho, etc.), as well as the name ‘Gilbert’, itself (being a Norman first name originally).
While I’m still going through and verifying this earlier genealogy with source materials, I have little doubt that the line is fairly well established through a Sir William Gilbert (born either 1204 or 1210, and died in 1270). Because of William’s marriage to the high-born Elizabeth Champernowne (born around 1210 and descended from King Henry I “Beauclerc”, and therefore the House of Normandy, on her great-grandmother’s side), I am confident he existed. The mystery is this: Where did Sir William come from? Who was his father? Was he the first to bear the surname ‘Gilbert’? This is my genealogical challenge.
The next post will have my leads on the mysterious origins of Sir William Gilbert of Compton (1204/10-1270).
So glad to have you on board~
I am so thrilled to be adding my cousin John Gilbert to our blog as our NEWEST BLOG AUTHOR~ He descends on my maternal side and will be working on the Gilbert side for all of us~ HE descends from my Mother Nancy (Gilbert) Allen’s – brother Bernard James (Jim) Gilbert.
The genealogy bug has bitten him also~ He will be adding post on his research on our Gilbert sides and like me has a passion for researching…. I am looking forward to all he uncovers~ He has been dabbling in genealogy now for a couple of years.
Comparison Data for: Coni Marie Dubois, Half Siblings
(To Kenneth Gilbert Jr.)
|Chromosome||Start Location||End Location||centiMorgans (cM)||# of Matching SNPs|
Via email/photos/permission to share from Paul Hart of the Barkhamsted Historical Society also photos and video from Ken & Jenn Feder.
We did the ground penetrating radar (GPR) at the Lighthouse cemetery today (Friday, Oct 27). This was set up by retired state archaeologist Nick Bellantoni, who recruited Debbie Surabian to operate the instrument.
Debbie is a soil scientist with the US Department of Agriculture. We walked up to the cemetery mid day, without the radar instrument, and did a quick survey. Based on the trees and rocks at the site, she did not feel that a grid could be set up, or that the machine would operate effectively at the site. So a grid was not laid out. But Debbie did take some readings anyway. Most of the readings were in the limited area of where the old fence was located around the cemetery. She found that the disturbed soil from where the CCCs put that fence in during the 1930s was visible because it was near the surface of the ground. She was able to confirm where one corner of the fence was located. But the few passes she took inside the cemetery did not produce any clear readings that could be interpreted, which was a disappointment. She said that tree roots and rocks were the cause of that.
Besides Debbie Surabian, Kenny Feder was here, along with retired state archaeologist Nick Bellantoni and the current state archaeologist Brian Jones and also Marc Banks, an archaeologist that has done work for the Barkhamsted Historical Society. So we really had some high powered people.
Photo 1 – Kenny Feder talking to current state archaeologist Brian Jones at the Lighthouse cemetery.
Photo 2 – The group at the Lighthouse cemetery discussing the site.
Photo 3 – left to right- Eric Chiapponi, Brian Jones, Kenny Feder, Marc Banks, Nick Bellantoni at the Lighthouse cemetery site.
Photo 4 – Debbie Surabian operating the GPR instrument at the Barkhamsted Lighthouse cemetery site.
Photo 5 – Left to right- Marc Banks, Debbie Surabian, Kenny Feder, Nick Bellantoni looking at the radar display screen, Lighthouse cemetery.
Photo 6 – Kenny Feder, Debbie and Brian Jones discussing the GPR effort at the Lighthouse cemetery.
10/28/17 – Facebook post from Jenn Davis to Coni Dubois:
It was too rocky/too many tree roots to determine number of graves, which was a bummer. The only thing that was clear while we were looking at the machine was where the fence was. But they’re going to look at the data and eventually get the info to Kenny and he’ll make sure you get it too.
The guy who is the state archaeologist now was very interested in the site and mentioned wanting to get LiDAR images. Basically they’re aerial images that wipe out all the trees and vegetation and give great images of the features and foundations. So that would be really cool.
We’ll keep you posted!
Photos & video below: by Jenn Feder
Please join us for our 2nd Family Gathering in 2020!
Mark the date and please share this event with family and friends so that we can reach as many people possible~
In link above please click if going, interested or not going so we can get a rough estimate of people coming~
I have set up a GoFundMe page – to help with cost of gathering~
ANY donations is appreciated & will help~
For my 50th BIRTHDAY – Sept 18th:
My birthday wish is that YOU, EACH & every one of you, do 5 good deed’s for me~
YEP this is what I want!!!
Rules: Do it with love – no return…. like helping our elderly… mow, rake… visit!
Do it just because YOU can~
Anything for the better good of OUR EARTH~
Mother Nature is teaching us how HUMANKIND, REGARDLESS OF RACE/BELIEFS CAN come together AS ONE, STAND AS ONE & work together AS ONE for PRESERVATION of our race~ As we see the devastation here on USA soil – destruction is happening across the world….. instead of hate, discord…war, we need to remember these hard times and the good we can do working together~
My heart is heavy as I watch tv today… As a history buff I have researched many storms, sicknesses & wars thru the years… and my conclusion is we keep repeating our mistake… over & over again! Time to start focusing on our one true solid proof of our life = what created us…. for dust we came & dust we will become… Mother Nature needs all our help…. we are the ones destroying this planet!
If a planet could be pissed…. I’d say our’s is!!!!
As I am turning 50….
I am reflecting on my years…
Did I do enough?
I know I will…
FROM here…. on out~
Those that steal, kill or hurt in anyway… remember…. it is your soul that lives with the burden…. you will pay in one form or another for your action… it will haunt your mind forever… love is the one true choice…. find peace, try being the better person… we alone chose our action, we alone have to live with those choices~
TRUST me when I say….. you never forget~
I have put a free viewing for my research book online for everyone: James Chagum – Chief of the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Village, is now able to be viewed on any computer, cell or tablet~
This research book is 25+ years in the making and I am SUPER excited & proud of this final edition~
Thru the years I have printed out these research books, to fix and correct the errors and it has led to making of this! I was seeing the story unfold as I hunted down our ancestors… page by page, person to person… I was uncovering a beautiful story… what was believed to be a myth… was real and I was a descendant of that story…. the Barkhamsted Light House People~
This research book is dedicated to my Father…. May he rest in peace knowing… “I found our Native American Roots” and I know in my heart I will continue doing genealogy til MY dying days…
Due to this being 598 pages and VERY extensive, I am SELF publishing this: For a printed version it will be $150.00 (Sponsorship – which includes a stylus pen/personal lineage IF a descendant & I will sign the book, along with a surprise 🙂 ) I am also putting out a digital version which will be $50.00 (best to just click this link – it is free to view online for anyone! It can’t be downloaded, edited or printed thou… printing will only be done by me~) All money received will go to help me do more research and take needed trips.
Please let me know what you think of this research book… This is actually the 1st one I feel is publishing quality.
This Research Book can also be found on tab above: Coni’s Research Books
In that tab look for:
Barkhamsted Lighthouse – Barkhamsted CT
NEW!! James Chagum – Chief of the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Village by Coni Dubois – Updated 8/1/17
Note: Printed version of this research book comes in 2 parts – DUE to so many pages had to put it into 2 parts, which I find is great because it gives me a reference book in my hands while looking at the main research book.
"Get your edges TWICE as SHARP"
Children's and Young Adult Author and Founder of the FInding Corte Magore Project
This site is dedicated to the ancestors of the Johnson, Booker and Petruff families of Rhode Island, Connecticut and Pennsylvania and thier connecting lines of lineage.
My quest of finding my ancestors (& a bit of my life)
Searching for Forgotten Forebears - A Work in Progress
Myths, legends, folklore and tales from around the world
the spaces between
Serving the interests of genealogists since 1967
Quest for Our Native American Roots
Essays on Heritage and Culture