Origin of the Surname GEE

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.


22 responses to “Origin of the Surname GEE

  • growltiger

    This is very interesting as my grandmother was Ann Gee, daughter of Edwin, granddaughter of Henry Gee of Greave, Werneth. I have traced this family back to Apethorn, which is now where the Romiley Golf Club is currently. That would be in the 1500-1700s, then to Werneth Low, Romiley, Bredbury. Most of the early Gee’s in my line used the services of Stockport, St Mary, Gee Cross Unitarian and Hyde Chapel. I believe we are part of the Manchester Gee’s.

  • Simon Hollingworth

    My surname is Hollingworth and I am one of the last males in direct line from the first lord Hollingworth of Hollingworth Manor in Longdendale. We understand that our DNA represents the ancient male line dating back to the family’s origin in 1140. I would like to know if there is a parent branch of the Gees of Gee Cross still alive today? It would be most interesting to compare the parent DNA markers for both families.

  • Simon Hollingworth

    Hi Angela, that is remarkable news. I believe there are only a handful of the original parent lines of any of the Macclesfield families survive to this time. This is wonderful news. My family are also from Dale Abbey and Ashbourne in Derbyshire. It was quite common for Longdendale families to move south. The Carringtons, Woolleys, Newtons also moved south with the expansion of the fulling and textile industries in about 1550. Perhaps the Gees moved for similar reasons!

    Has anyone actually made contact with the original Gees?

  • meredith

    MY SURNAME IS GEE MY FATHER IS ROBERT FROM VIRGINIA I AM AFRICAN AMERICAN AND FIND THIS TO BE VERY INTERESTING MY DAUGHTER RECENTLY HAD DNA TESTING AND WE HAV E ENGLISH IN OUR DNA GOD BLESS

  • Simon Hollingworth (Hollingworth Hall family)

    DNA does turn up some remarkable results. A gentleman with my surname, recently found his Ymarkers were typical of the sarmations horsemen of middle Europe; who originally came from the Sub-continent. Although, he was from Longdendale in Cheshire, his ancestry originated somewhere in India 3,000 years ago! After a great deal of interest from academics in this field, they concluded that his family were living at the location to become Gee-Cross at the same time the 21st legion of Roman soldiers built Milandra fort at Charlesworth in Derbyshire. I am sure you will enjoy learning the history of the Gees and their ancient history from Longdendale in Cheshire (and elswhere of course). Congratulations on being blessed with two such wonderful cultures. Each comes with its own rich tapestry of past accounts. Cheers simon

  • Pete gee

    Hi I’m a gee living in salford love to hear from other gee’s

  • Anthony Gee

    I am Anthony Gee and have traced my family connection to the southern Lancashire Gee,s who originally moved over from Cheshire in the early period of the Woolen and Coal industries. It is my opinion that the Gee name originated from Cheshire and from there we came over from Brittany
    France. The name at that time was Guy. Land was given to the gee,s or possibly taken by force and a large family of the Gee name expanded to include the Southern Lancashire family. I have traced my family name to involvement in Coal and the Woolen trade. Indeed one member being involved with the enforcement officers of the St. Helens courts as a person who forcibly evicted people not paying rent.

  • Rowena Gee

    I am Rowena Gee, from Laois Ireland..my fathers first name is george..fullname George Edward Gee..is all very interesting…oh and I called my cat Henry!

  • Norman Gee

    My name is Norman Gee,I was born in Mottram in 1935.my line is from Denton.In the mid 1800s the family moved from Wereth,with many families baptized I Gee Cross Unitarion Church.

  • Proinsias Mag Fhionnghaile

    Hi all. Yes the Cheshire Gee family were originally Breton/French Guy. Sometimes Gee is pronounced with a hard and sometimes with a soft ‘g’. The soft ‘g’ as in Guy is the correct one. The Gee clan of Co Laois are a branch of the south Westmeath clan Mag Aoidh and has no relation to English Gees or to other Irish McGee/Mag Aoidh clans.

    Proinsias
    pmagfhionnghaile@hotmail.com

  • mitchell gee

    hi all, im a Gee from sheffield, most of my family are all from derbyshire (dronfield).

  • Fred

    Gee is Irish and Scottish in origin, see McGee

  • Chris potter

    Hi I am descended from the gees of Aston on Trent is there a connection to North derbyshire gees

  • Ken Gee

    My family is from Kentucky USA. We pronounce it Gee with a hard G sound like the letter. I know our family came from middle Egland in the late 1600’s to Mass. USA then to Virginia USA where the family broke into 2 different families. One going south and the other going west. Because of the French first names such as Champness. We were wondering if there is some French influence or maybe may have been a French surname. Anyone have any thoughts.

  • Glenn Gee

    Hello from the great State of Oklahoma, USA. I am a Gee descended from Charles Gee 1660 – 1790 and Hannah Drury of Virginia Colony. I haven’t started researching my English Ancestors as of yet but am fascinated over research that some of you folks have done and hope that I can be as successful. Is there a DNA database for the Gee surname in England.

  • Matthew Gee

    My name is Matthew Gee from Melbourne, Australia. I’ve traced my family tree back to Northern Ireland and find it fascinating to read the history of this great name. Thanks for all your stories.

  • Matt Matuszewski

    I can trace my Gee line through my grandmother Minnie Gee b.1879, The line traces directly back to my ancestor Sir william Gee, b.1571, AT Bishop Burton Yorkshire. He was twice mayor and one time Sheriff of Kingston upon Hull, I can trace his line back to his father William Gee, b1505 at Rothley, Leicestershire and his great grandfather, John Gee,b. sometime in the 1400’s.

    In my line, at least, the name was spelled “GEE”, well back into the 15th century .
    .

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