The intent of this blog is to gather information about the history of the Barbados Gittens family, who were very early English settlers in Barbados, and to make the information available to family members and other interested individuals.
This first blog contains an overview of the Gittens family history and its origins in Barbados. Future blogs will attempt to highlight some of the interesting aspects of the Gittens family of Barbados over the past 350 years.
All comments, suggestions and or ideas are invited and welcomed. I would especially appreciate making contact with other members of the Gittens family who have an association, past or present, with Barbados.
The start in Barbados
My ancestors, the Gittens Family, were white settlers who arrived from England in the mid sixteen hundreds. It appears likely that the family came from England but as yet there is no direct evidence supporting this assumption.
The early history of the Gittens family in Barbados is often confusing as records of this era, if they exist, are somewhat brief. For example baptismal records often only include a parish name, date, name of father and name of child. As time progressed the record keeping became better, often including the first name of the mother on baptismal records. Adding to the confusion were the naming preferences of the era. The Gittens family, for example, often used John, Nathaniel, Isaac, Benjamin, Joseph and Joshua for male children and Mary, Elizabeth, Rebecca, and Hannah for female children. This meant that almost every family had children with the same names making positive identification of children often challenging.
Further complicating the family history was the illiteracy of the 1600’s. The officials doing the record keeping wrote names as they heard them. The majority of the people of the era could not read or write so they were not able to correct spellings. Because of this the Gittens name had many variations, some of which included Gittings, Githens, Gittins and Gettings. The name standardized to Gittens following the census of 1715.
The final factor that adds to the confusion is that many of the Gittens in Barbados took up the Quaker faith in the 1655-1700 era. Unfortunately, all of the Quaker records have been lost over time.
The First Settlers
John Gittens and his wife Mabel were the first Gittens family to have children baptized in Barbados. It is likely that there were 8 children fathered by John Gittens as follows:
- Mary Gittens, daughter of John Gittens was baptized 12 June 1648 in the parish of St. John. This is the earliest record of the Gittens in Barbados.
- Isaak Gittens, son of John Gittens, baptized 22 November 1650 in the Parish of St. Phillip.
- Maria Gittens, daughter of John Gittens and Mabel baptized 31 August 1678 at the age of 18 years and 7 months, in the parish of Christ Church. Maria was also married the same day to John Herbert in the Parish of Christ Church.
- Joseph Gittens, this relationship was establish from a census done in 1679/80 listing the militia members
- James Gittens, this relationship was establish from a census done in 1679/80 listing the militia members
- John Gittens, This relationship was determined through a 1679/80 census of land owners which included three Gittens in the Parish of St. Phillip: John Gittens Senior owning 30 acres and 8 slaves (father) : John Gittens Junior, owning 5 acres and 4 slaves (son of John Gittens senior): Isaak Gittens. owning 25 acres and 8 slaves (son of John Gittens Senior)
- Elizabeth Gittens, married Edward Barrett on the 14 February 1681 in the Parish of St. Michael.
- Elizabeth Gittens was mentioned in the will of Thomas Pooler. She was the daughter of John Gittens and his second wife Elizabeth Pooler.
It is from these eight children that the Barbados Gittens family is descended.
The next blog will focus on the origins of the Gittens name.