This interesting surname, which is of Norman (French) origin, was introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066, as the male personal name "Gislebert", "Guilbert" or "Gil(l)ebert". The name was adopted by the Normans from the Old German name "Gisilbert", composed of the elements "gisil", hostage, noble youth, and "berht", bright, famous. It is recorded first in England in the Domesday Book of 1086 in the Latinized form of "Gislebertus", and appears as a surname in the early 13th Century (see below). The given name Gilbert was very popular in medieval England, partly due to the fame of St. Gilbert of Sempringham (1086 - 1189), the founder of the only native English monastic order, and a number of variant forms survive as modern surnames, such as Gilbertson. Church Records include one Anna Gylberte, who was christened on June 20th 1548, at St. Michael's, Cornhill, London, and Anne, daughter of Harry Gilbert, who was christened on December 21st 1558, at St. Matthew's, Friday Street, London. One Henry Gilbert, aged 38 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed from London aboard the ship, the "Northumberland", bound for New York on April 9th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Willelmus Gilberti, which was dated 1202, in the "Curia Rolls of Wiltshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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