Recorded in many spelling forms, although all are quite rare, including Gave, Gavey, Geeves, Gieves, Gever, Give, Goves, Goves, Govey, Jovey and Jovis, this unusual surname is medieval English, but of French pre 8th century origins. It is a metronymic, that is to say one where the first bearer of the name took it from his mother. She would have been a person of some status, and almost certainly a land-owner in her own right. The personal name was "Geva", a short form of "Genevieve", a name introduced into Britain by the Normans, after the Conquest of 1066. The derivation and meaning of the name are uncertain. It appears to be of Gaulish origin, and to have comprised the elements "geno", meaning people, and "wefa", a wife. The name has always been very popular in France, where St. Genevieve of the 5th century, became patroness of Paris. Amongst the early recordings in England are those of Annes Gavey, daughter of John Gavey, christened at St Giles Cripplegate, London, on June 14th 1562, Nicholas Geeves who married Margaret Harberd on December 27th 1610, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, and Martha, the daughter of Joannis Govey, christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on May 5th 1672. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Gever, which was dated 1279, in the "Hundred Rolls" of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Edward I, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307.
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