History of the Gibson Surname

The Irish surname Gibson is patronymic in origin, belonging to that category of surnames derived from the first name of the father of the original bearer. Thus, it simply denotes “son of Gilbert”, of which Gib{b} was a common diminutive in medieval times. Gilbert in turn originates in the Old Germanic “Gislebert”, meaning “pledge/hostage-bright”. In Ireland bearers of the name are usually descendants of the Scottish Gibson’s who settled in Ulster in the seventeenth century. The Scottish Gibson’s are a branch of the clan Buchanan. First records of their name date from 1335, when a John Gibson surrendered the Castle of Rothesay. A Thomas Gibson held land in Dumfries in 1425. The Gibson’s of Caithness and Orkney are mainly of Edinburgh origin, while the Gibson’s of Durie, date from 1500 having held land in Durie until 1785. One of the earliest references to this name in Ireland is a record of one John Gibson, the son of Thomas Gibson, who was christened on April 16, 1661 in Templemore, Derry. George Gibson, the son of William Gibson and Mary Cain, was born in May 1686 in Drumgor, Armagh. Hugh Gibson, the son of Andrew and Isabell Gibson, was christened on October 24, 1680 in Saint Catherine’s Church, Dublin. Robert Gibson wed Martha Grimes on June 20, 1690 in Lisburn, Antrim.

More recently, there is an entry for the wedding of Patrick Gibson and Anne Mahaffey, celebrated on November 18, 1846 in Donegal. Among the most notable bearers of the name have been Charles Gibson {1867-1944}, the American illustrator and creator of the “Gibson Girl”, and Paris Gibson {1830-1920}, the American pioneer. Research is of course ongoing and there may still be more documentation found that indicates an even earlier date than the one mentioned above.


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  1. “Gibson” also come from old Scottish Gaelic “Giobsan”

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