G is for: A Genealogy Study

Back again with more surnames and their meanings! Interested in the previous letters?

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de Gournai: This name is of Norman locational origin from a place in Sein-Maritime called Gournay (-en-Brai). The name derives from the Gallo-Roman personal Gordinus, plus the local suffix -acum meaning a village or settlement. The surname from this source is first recorded in the latter half of the 11th Century, (see below). The namebearer fought in the Battle of Hastings for William the Conqueror and was granted lands in England.

de Grene: Green, one of the most widespread of English surnames, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century “grene” meaning green, and was originally given either as a topographical name to one resident by the village green, or perhaps as a nickname to someone who habitually dressed in this colour or played the part of the “Green Man” in the May Day celebrations, green being symbolic of youth, springtime and growth. The fact that nearly every village had its “green” accounts for the prevalence of the surname which was first recorded in the late 12th century.

Galbraith: This interesting and famous surname recorded in several spellings including Galbraith, Galbraeth and even Calbaith, is Scottish. It originated as a nickname for a member of the Briton tribe of Strathclyde who settled amongst the Gaels in the 7th century. In Gaelic the name is written Mac galle Bhreathnach, from “mac”, meaning son of, “gall”, a stranger, and “Breathnach”, a Briton. It is likely that these Britons migrated northwards at the time of the Anglo-Saxon or Norse-Viking invasions of the mainland, although this is not proven.

Galpin: The origin of this surname dates back to the Norman Conquest of 1066. It derives from the French “Galopin”, a derivation of “Galoper”, a nickname term for a messenger or scout, the original “Galopins” being employed in the invading armies. In later medieval times, with the creation of surnames, the term became more general, and was used to describe a horsed courier, one who carried messages.

Gearheart: See Gerritsen below

Geddyng: locational name derived from the villages of Gedding near Huntingdon or Gidding near Stowmarket in Suffolk. The name is Anglo-Saxon pre 7th century and is personal meaning ‘Gedds family place’ – with ‘Gedd’ perhaps being a development of God – a word which originally meant ‘good’.

George: Recorded in over two hundred separate spellings, including such varied forms as George, Jorg, Georgius, Hirche, Hirjak, Horak, Horik, Hiroz, Hiriza, Yurak, to Jorat, Yegorov and Djordjevic, this notable surname is of Ancient Greek origins. It is also for very obscure reasons, the patron saint of England. Deriving from the word “Georgios” meaning a farmer, the name was used in Europe throughout the early Christian period, being associated with a martyr of the 3rd century, supposedly killed at Nicomedia in the year 303. The popularity of the name increased greatly at the time of the famous Crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries when it became the practice for returning crusaders and pilgrims to name their children after biblical figures from the Old Testament.

Gerritsen:  The historic kingdom of Bohemia, enclosed by mountains and the celebrated Bohemian forest, is the noble birthplace of the name Gerritsen. The surname Gerritsen derived from the Old German personal name Gerhard, which means spear-brave. Spelling variations of this family name include: Gerhardt, Gearhart, Gearhardt, Gerhart, Gearhard, Gerhard, Gerheart, Gearheart, Gerard and many more.

Gibson: The Hebrides islands and the west coast of Scotland are the ancestral home of the Gibson family. Their name comes from the given name Gibb, which is a diminutive form of the name Gilbert. Descended from a chieftain, Gilbert, probably Gilbert, Lord of Galloway, the Gibsons settled first at Lennox in Scotland, and in those early times was a formidable force to be encountered.

Gierman: The surname Gierman is a derivation of the Old High German “ger” meaning “spear” or “javelin.” The surname Gierman was first found in Hamburg, where the name Gierman came from humble beginnings but gained a significant reputation for its contribution to the emerging medieval society.

Giffard: This surname is of some considerable antiquity and was introduced nto England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It has two possible origins, the first of which is the Anglicized form of the Germanic personal name “Gebhardt”, composed of the elements “geb”, meaning “gift” and “hard”, meaning “brave”, “hardy” or “strong”. The second possible origin is from the Old French “Giffard”, used as a nickname for someone thought to be “chubby-cheeked”, a derivative of the Germanic word “giffel”, “cheek”.  A Coat of Arms granted to the family has the blazon of on a red field, three lion’s passant argent in pale. The crest being a leopard’s face ore breathing fire gules.

Gladstone: This is a Scottish locational name, deriving from the Gledstanes in the former county of Lanarkshire (now part of the upper Clydesdale region). The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century “gleoda” meaning a “kite” or “glede” and “stan” a stone. (The stones and rocks of this region were frequented by these birds of prey).

Godfrey: The history of the name Godfrey begins with the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is derived from the baptismal name for the son of Godfrey. The surname Godfrey was first found in Kent.

Goldborough: The name Goldborough has been recorded in British history since the time when the Anglo-Saxons ruled over the region. The name is assumed to have been given to someone who was a goldsmith, or jeweler, refiner, or gilder. The surname Goldborough was also a nickname for someone with bright yellow hair which referred to gold. The surname Goldborough was first found in Yorkshire where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Goodrich: The lineage of the name Goodrich begins with the Anglo-Saxon tribes in Britain. It is a result of when they lived in the region of Goodrich or Gotheridge in the county of Hereford. The surname Goodrich may also derive from the patronymic name the son of Godrich which was composed of the elements God which referred to someone good and Ric which meant power.The surname may also have derived from the Old English cud, meaning “famous,” with the aforementioned “ric.” The surname Goodrich was also first found in Yorkshire, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Grendon: The surname Grendon was first found in Warwickshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor.

Grey: The story of the name Grey begins with a family in the Boernician tribe of the ancient Scottish-English border region. Grey is a name for a person who had gray hair. In Scotland, the surname Grey actually came from two different derivations. As a nickname, it came from the Gaelic word riabhach, which means gray. As a habitational name, it derived from the place named Graye, in Calvados. This place-name came from the Gallo-Roman personal name, Gratus, which means welcome or pleasing. The surname Grey was first found in Northumberland, with Anschatel Groy of Haute Saone, Normandy, who fought with William the Conqueror in 1066 AD. After the conquest, Anschatel Groy settled in Chillingham, Northumberland. He was from the department of Haute Saone called Gray, sometimes Groy, or Croy, in Normandy.

Groot: is a Dutch surname. Groot means “big” in Dutch and the surname was originally a nickname for a tall person. The name is most common in the province of North Holland.

Guilford/ Gilford: The name Guilford is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when a family lived in the village of Guildford, which was in the county of Surrey. The surname was originally derived from the Old English word guilford which denoted the “ford where the marigolds grew.” The surname Guilford was first found in Kent at Guildford, a county town that dates back to Saxon times c. 880 when it was first listed as Gyldeforda. About 978 or so, it was home to an early English Royal Mint. By the Domesday Book of 1086,  the town’s name had evolved to Gildeford and was held by William the Conqueror.  Guildford Castle is thought to have been built shortly after the 1066 invasion of England by William the Conqueror. As the castle is not listed in the Domesday Book, it is generally thought to have been built after 1086.

Gullett:  Bapt. ‘the son of William,’ from the N. the Franch Guille (English Will), and diminutive Guill-ot (English Willott or Willett). This made only a slight impression on English nomenclature, the desire to keep it distinct from Gilot, the nick, and diminutive of Juliana (v. Gillott, a), causing Williamot, shortened to Wilmot, to predominate.

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3 thoughts on “G is for: A Genealogy Study

  1. Another great surname origins post, Amanda! It looks like we share the following G surnames: George, Gibson, Giffard (Gifford), Grey, and Gullett. I also have a non-direct line leading back to Gerritsen.

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