Surname Saturday: GILBERT

Surname Saturday: GILBERT – The Gilbert family of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire are the focus of this week’s meme day.

This week’s Surname Saturday post is that of my paternal Gilbert family. My connection is through my paternal Great Grandmother, who was born in 1884, in Littleport, Cambridgeshire.

With the help of the research of distant relative Colin Tabeart, the tree has been found to stretch back through time as far as 1694 when the family turns up in Abbotsley, Huntingdonshire (now part of Cambridgeshire). It is here that they are noted in the parish records and taxation records.

It appears that the earliest Gilbert I’ve found (with, as yet, an unproven connection) was in Abbotsley, Huntingdonshire in 1605, when a John Gilbert takes his daughter Maria to be baptised in the parish church of St Margaret on 24th February.

Abbotsley Church
St Margaret’s church at Abbotsley, Cambridgeshire.

By the beginning of the 18th century, the Gilbert families in Abbotsley were booming with each seemingly having at least 9 children, and up to as many as 13 children over a 24 year period – as was the case of James and Anne Gilbert between 1752 and 1776.

In 1767 at Abbotsley, Elizabeth Gilbert (née Hale) – the widow of James Gilbert – is noted as paying a Land Tax of £1, 19 shillings to a Mr Robert Edsope.

In 1828, the son of my Gilbert line – William – leaves Abbotsley and heads about 40 miles North East to Littleport in Cambridgeshire, where he married Elizabeth Brightly. The couple settle down in Burnt Chimney Drove – an area of rich agricultural fenland just to the North West of Littleport, where William becomes a farmer. The couple bear 12 children, although sadly a few of these don’t survive their early years.

Whilst William’s relocation may well have been because of his love for Elizabeth, his parents – Edward and Susan Gilbert have fallen on hard times –  by 1851 they are both noted as ‘paupers’ and are living with their daughter Mary and her husband Thomas Cade. Susan has become blind, but goes on to live another 8 years. Edward only lived until 1852.

Elizabeth Howlett and James Gilbert
Elizabeth Howlett and James Gilbert

Despite this hardship, William and Elizabeth were making progress for themselves and managing to live outside of poverty thanks to farming. Their 9th child (also Edward and Susan’s grandson), James, was my Great Great Grandfather, and he survived his two older brothers. In doing so, and in an act not unusual or unlike primogeniture, he inherited his father’s farm in 1879, which by 1871 had grown to 40 acres and employed one family.

By this time, James had got married to Elizabeth Howlett – and they had already bore two of their eventual family of nine children.

The family still lives and farms in the area today.

Surname Saturday: HALE

Continuing the Surname Saturday genealogy blogging meme by looking at the HALE family of Knotting and Potton, Bedfordshire.

For this Surname Saturday entry, I’m going right back to the late 17th century to tell you about the Hale family from a small village on the Bedfordshire/Northamptonshire border.

In 1660, with the death of Oliver Cromwell and the restoration of Charles II still fresh in people’s minds, a William Hale (b.c. 1621) and his wife Elizabeth from the tiny village of Knotting had welcomed their son Thomas into the world. By 12th August of that year he had been christened in the parish church. It’s not known yet whether Thomas had any siblings but I suspect that he probably did as there are some other Hales in the same village at the same time (a William and Eleanor Hale are having children in the same parish during the same period).

Knotting, Bedfordshire
St Margaret’s Church, Knotting

On 14th September 1686, when Thomas Hale was about 26yrs old, he married Bathsheba Jennell at Knotting parish church. Sadly, within 10 months he became a widower with Bathsheba being buried at Knotting on 21st August 1687. Research notes at show the birth of a daughter, Elizabeth in 1687, whom I’m assuming was the daughter of Bathsheba. Perhaps she died during or as a consequence of Elizabeth’s birth?

By 1689, Thomas had remarried to a woman known only (so far) as Elizabeth (possibly Elizabeth Fairy or Elizabeth Westcot – the Knotting parish registers will hopefully reveal this), and on 4th July the family returned to the Knotting parish church to christen their new son William Hale. William appears to have been the first of at least 10 children for this new family, with Giles Hale being the youngest born in 1703.

William worked as a tailor. By 1706, he had met and married Elizabeth Truelove in Potton. It was here that the couple made their home, bearing 11 children, starting with Elizabeth Hale in 1707 and ending with John Hale in 1725.

It appears that William died in 1730, with his wife following him to the grave in 1735.

The 1911 census for Knotting included a Mr Hale.