ORIGIN OF THE SURNAME GEE
When the Normans from northern France conquered England in 1066, surnames were not yet in use. With the conquest, came a French speaking Monarchy, Christianity, Clerical hierarchy and Aristocracy. The Scandinavian influence became lessened. Christian first names came with the Normans. By the mid-15th century surnames were also in use.
Surname use became a practice in China several thousand years ago and came to France around 1100 AD. A surname was usually a descriptive word used to identify a particular individual and was a variation of a first name, a description of a place where they lived, perhaps the color of their hair (example Aodh Ruadh was Ee having red hair or if he had black hair then his name would be Aodh Dubh) their occupation, social status, etc. Or they used an antiphrastic name such as Mac Caoch, meaning – son of a one eyed man.
One suggestion is the Gaelicization the French first name “Guy”. The name certainly could have arrived with the Normans when they conquered Britain. The French pronunciation of “Guy” is “Gee” with the G being soft. I am going to use a fairly modern day example of the French pronunciation of “Guy”. Montreal-Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame inductee – Guy LaFleur.
The book entitled “the Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions” defines Gee as: The French pronunciation of Gui, Guy or Wido. Examples given: Robert Guide of Normandy 1180; William Guido 1198; Magister Guido, and Robert Gy of England, circa 1272.
The book Patronymica Britannica denotes “GEE – The Celtic Mac Gee, sans Mac.” The Celts may have added their unique system of naming – Mac Guy.
I have found a Michael Macge (1339); Gilbert M`Ghie, 1st Lord of Balmage (13??-1426); Gilbert M`Gy, 2nd Lord of Balmage (1426-1471).
Another interesting surname “GEESON” arose in northern England, a patronymic form of GEE, being “son of Gee.” This surname was an Anglicized form of “Mac Gee.” And so the name evolved. The only consistent theory I have found is that the name spread from north to south – not the other way around.
There are several theories of how the surname GEE developed, but one thought remains constant through-out and that is it originated as a first name and metamorphosed into a last name. The following theory seems to be the most practical.
The surname “GEE“ is a surname originating in Northern England that could have its roots from the famous Gaelic surname `MacGEE`. The name MacGEE originated in the Scottish lowlands. The Scottish lowlands share the border with parts of Northern England and in medieval times, that border was fluid. Other spellings of MacGee were McGee, M`Ghie, Magee, MacGie and McGhee. Since Mc or Mac, M’hic, or M` was Gaelic for “son of“ the name literally meant son of GEE. It was an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name “Mac Aodha“, (pronounced Mac Ee) which is a patronymic form of the personal name Aodh which means “fire“. (Aodh was originally the name of a pagan god.)
The Gaelic boys name Aodh is pronounced “Ee“. This was a common personal name in Scotland in the middle ages.
As members of this clan possibly drifted south to northern England for various reasons, the society was much different, and henceforth the need to drop the prefix “Mac, M’, M’hic, or Mc” from the surname, leaving only GEE GIE, GI, GY, GUY, JIE. When searching through old English Parish church records dating back to 1584, I did find all of these variants.
I first find Robert GEE in 1519 at Lydgate farm from a Wolley Charters document. Next I found a Henry GEE as sheriff for the County of Cheshire in 1527-25 in the `History of the County of Cheshire – volume 5, part 2“.
In the old parish church records of Saint Mary’s Church in Stockport (1584) is found the references to the GEES of Hyde, Gee Cross and Werneth. Werneth Low is a hill near Hyde in Derbyshire and is part of the Pennines. It is located on the border of Stockport. The village of Gee Cross lies on the side of the “low”. The term “low” does not refer to height or lack thereof. It is an old English term meaning hill. Werneth Low rises to about 295 meters (915 feet). Many of the old entries in the church records refer to “George GEE of Werneth or Reginalde GEE of Werneth”.
The village of GEE Cross was probably a locational name that developed where a man (in this example Gee) held his lands. And all of the ancient records indicate that there were GEES marrying, having children and burying their loved ones at GEE CROSS as early as 1494.