Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

My wife's ancestors - Gibbon - Contents

  Spelling: Gibbon or Gibbons

The Gibbon arms

Gibbon the ape

Gibbon of Aberdeen, Scotland


Wider family

Our family may be related to Gibbon of Stonehaven. But proof is lacking.
Our family may be related to other Gibbon of Aberdeenshire. But proof is lacking.
Our family was granted similar arms to Gibbon of England. But there is no proof of any connection and it seems unlikely.


Gibbon family tree dates are too early

The old Gibbon family trees have dates that are too early.
See start of [Barbara Yates Gibbon family tree]
See copy of [Alexander Gibbon family tree].
Together these say Arthur Gibbon of Echt, father of William Gibbon, was born in 1614, moved to Torry in 1640, and died c.1686.

But these dates do not make sense, given the dates for Arthur Gibbon's children and grandchildren.
How could a man born in 1614 have a grandchild born in 1757?
How could a man who died c.1686 have a daughter who gave birth in 1752?
Arthur being born about 1670 makes more sense.


The real, historical Arthur Gibbon

In fact, we have discovered William Gibbon's father was indeed Arthur Gibbon, or Gibbons. Arthur was living in 1732-1737. He lived in Torry, Aberdeen.
So clearly not born in 1614, and not dying c.1686. It is a mystery where these 17th century dates came from.
Arthur who was living in 1732-1737 is a real person, so we will start with him. We will call him Arthur of Echt, though it may be a father or grandfather who came from there to Aberdeen.


We begin with:

Extract from [Jervise, 1879, p.16].
This says that this Gibbon family were tradesmen at Tillioch, near Echt, before becoming shipowners in Aberdeen.

Tillioch, SW side of Echt.
From 1843-1882 map.

James Gibbon and William Gibbon, tradesmen, are listed at Tillioch, Echt parish, in [Poll book, 1696].
From p.205 of vol.1 of the 1844 publication.
[Jervise, 1879] thinks this is our family.
Parish of Echt is pp.203-217. I cannot see any other Gibbons in the parish.

Echt on Roy Military Survey of Scotland, 1747-1755.
"Tullyhook" would be Tillioch.

Echt, Aberdeenshire.
Photo 1998.
See larger and full size.
See modern street view.

Spelling: Gibbon or Gibbons

Our family's surname is often found written as "Gibbons" in the early 18th century.
By the late 18th century they have standardised to "Gibbon".
Here are all mentions of the surname before 1760 (in our family, image not transcript, contemporary not later).

Date Page Event Source Surname
1729 William Gibbon William mar St.Nicholas' church, Aberdeen Gibbon
1731 Innes Margaret Gibbon mar Nigg Gibbons
1732 William Gibbon Jean bapt Nigg Gibbons
1733 Alexander Gibbon Anna bapt Nigg Gibbons
1734 William Gibbon Capt. William bapt Nigg Gibbons
May 1737 Duncan Ann Gibbon mar Nigg Gibbons
Sept 1737 Alexander Gibbon Martha bapt Nigg Gibbons
1738 William Gibbon Capt. Robert bapt Nigg Gibbons
1744 Alexander Gibbon Margaret bapt Nigg Gibbons
1747 Alexander Gibbon Charles bapt Nigg Gibbons
1748 Robert Gibbon Arthur bapt Nigg Gibbon
1750 Robert Gibbon Charles bapt Nigg Gibbons
1752 Robert Gibbon Alexander bapt Nigg Gibbon
Feb 1755 Capt. Arthur Gibbon Capt. Arthur mar Nigg Gibbon
Sept 1755 Robert Gibbon Robert junior bapt Nigg Gibbon
1756 Capt. Arthur Gibbon Christian bapt St.Nicholas' church, Aberdeen Gibbon
1757 Robert Gibbon Anna bapt Nigg Gibbon

The Gibbon arms

The Gibbon arms (with three scallop shells) were granted to Gibbon of Rolvenden, Kent in 1629.
Similar arms were granted to Gibbon of Dorset in 1681.

Our family is Gibbon of Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
They have no known connection to Gibbon of England.
However in the 19th century they were granted the right to use a version of these Gibbon arms.
The expense book of Arthur Augustus Gibbon records periodic payments of fees to the College of Arms for an Armorial Bearings Licence, various dates 1878 through 1893. Arthur Augustus Gibbon used the arms constantly.

The papers of our Gibbon family focused on the grant of Gibbon arms to Gibbon of Dorset in 1681. Though there is no known connection to our family.
Arthur Augustus Gibbon had the stained glass crest made in 1881, on the 200th anniversary of the grant of arms in 1681.
However, the Gibbon arms are older than 1681. Gibbon of Dorset are only one Gibbon family to whom the arms (or similar) were granted.

The motto: The motto used by our Gibbons is "Per Mare et Terras" ("By sea and land").
Our Gibbons, of Aberdeen, were a maritime family. I am not sure if this motto was invented for our Gibbons in the 19th century, or is older.

The Gibbon coat of arms. On paper.
There are multiple copies of this in Gibbon papers. Look like they are all cut out from some printed forms or notepaper with the Gibbon arms.
See larger and full size.
See other photo.
See other version.

The Gibbon coat of arms.
Stained glass in our family.
Painted for Arthur Augustus Gibbon by "Herr Ziebert" in 1881.
See larger and full size.
See other shot.

Arms of a Thomas Gibbons, dated 1660.
Christow church, Devon.
From Christine Gibbins.

Gibbon the ape

Everyone with the surname Gibbon wonders if it is something to do with the apes called gibbons.
The answer is complex, and may be yes.

The name "gibbon" for the apes (Buffon, 1766)

The family of apes called gibbons were first given their name in print by the great French naturalist Buffon in 1766 in Histoire naturelle.

Buffon introduces the word "gibbon" for the apes.
From p.92 of Histoire naturelle, vol.14, Paris, 1766.

English translation of the notes.
From p.185 of Buffon's Natural History, English translation, vol.9, London, 1807.


Origin before Buffon


Gilbert, Gibbon and Gib


Possible British origin for the ape name


Entry for "gibbon" on p.778 of 1910 edn of An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language by Walter W. Skeat.
Screenshot is from a reprint.
This suggests quite a plausible theory - that the French in early-mid 18th century India got the name not from the natives but from the British in India.
The origin may be related to "gib" the cat.
Or the ape could even be named after some British man called Gibbon.


Gibbon the historian is not the origin



Gibbon of Stonehaven, Kincardineshire


Miscellaneous Gibbon of Aberdeenshire


Lewis Grassic Gibbon


Miscellaneous Gibbon (of England)


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