The Gittens Family of Barbados – At the Beginning

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.

14 thoughts on “The Gittens Family of Barbados – At the Beginning

  1. Reply
    Sean J Gittens - December 5, 2018

    Looking for more information on the Gittens family. My brother Jeremy and I are trying to piece things together. We would also like to bring our father Joe to Barbados on vacation/fact finding.

    1. Reply
      Steven Gittens - August 14, 2019


      1. Reply
        Cliff - August 16, 2019

        Hi Steven, If you can provide a bit more information on your parents and grandparents then maybe I could assist in your search.

    2. Reply
      Keith Gittens - May 30, 2021

      Hi I’m keith Gittens born in UK 1953 son of Frederick Donald Gittens of St Lucia he came to Uk. I n 1939.
      My father was born in 1919 in St Lucia he as born to a mixed race father called Felix Gittens his mother being black. On my last vacation the family in St Lucia told me that my Great grandfather my father’s grandfather was a poor white man from Barbados called Gittens

  2. Reply
    Tim Garrett - January 23, 2021

    I am a descendant of the Githens family. I have a book of research done by Sherwood Gitthens and published in 1977. He was able to trace the family to a John, George, Jane, and Joseph. They were associated with the Quakers and came to America and landed in Pennsylvania. He tried to find connections in England and then in Barbados. My family actually added an extra t in Githens (Gitthens) to distinguish two large families living in the same small town. Two Githens brothers had married two sisters. I am wondering if there has been any new research done in any connections?

    1. Reply
      Allan Oliver - February 25, 2021

      Hi Tim,
      I’ve been search for my ancestry for over thirty years and only started making some headway within the last two years. two brothers marrying two sisters seem very common back then, my great grand father and his brother (Oliver) married two sisters (Bonyun) who were descendants of the Gittens. My search from the Gittens genealogy records have been very helpful and is in line with info I found in an article about Mr Matthew Chapman having two daughters who married two Quakers. In his will one daughter is listed as Elizabeth Gittens and his son in law Isaac Gittens, records show that her sister Ann would have married Robert Gittens from whom I am a descendant. Good luck with your search hope I might have helped in some small way, God bless.

    2. Reply
      Sheri Gitthens - December 16, 2022

      Hi Tim,
      I also have the book by Sherwood Githens. No one has ever given me an actual reason as to why the second T was added to our last name. One of my Aunts said that they were told by their Grandfather Jackson Douthet Gitthens to add an extra T. My Father’s birth certificate has just one T.
      I am a direct decendent of John. It was my understanding that George, Jane and John spelled their last name Githens, but it is spelled so many different ways in documents listed in the book and on Ancestry. I would love to find out more information on our family.

  3. Reply
    Garry Gittens - March 22, 2021

    Im in looking for family members all over the world

  4. Reply
    Keith Rees - December 30, 2021

    I am interested in researching Josiah Gettins/Gettens who was a ship’s engineer out of Bristol in 1840. He was married twice; once to a Maria; and secondly, Mary Ann Rees 27 Jul 1840 St. Paul’s Bristol. Certificate named his father as Joseph. He was not born in Gloucestershire. He died 7 Mar 1848 Melbourne aged 51.
    The Joshua Gittens bp. 26 Jun 1795 St. Phillip, Barbados remains a possibility unless it can be shown this child continued to live in Barbados.

  5. Reply
    Carol G (McClean)Richards - January 1, 2022

    Garry Gittens my grandfather was a Gittens he came from Barbados 🇧🇧 to marry a women my grandmother they had their children in New York.

  6. Reply
    Tania Gittens - September 17, 2022

    Good Afternoon Cliff,
    Thank you for this history. I am looking to map out my lineage back to the original Gittens settlers in Barbados and I’m not sure if you have information that can help. My grandfather was Lawrence Gittens, and lived in Grazette’s, St. Michael with my grandmother, Iola Taylor. I’m hoping to piece together the lineage between the settlers and my grandfather. Please let me know how I can get in touch with you to discuss further.

    1. Reply
      Wendy Bellamy - November 25, 2023

      My name is Wendy Gittens. My Father’s name was Raglan Gittens, my Grandmother was Olive Gittens of St. Michael Barbados

  7. Reply
    Nicholas Gittens - April 19, 2023

    Hello Gittens Family,

    I am a mixed race Gittens living in Pensylvania, USA. My father M.Gittens is a black man. The furthest I have been able to trace my family history is back to a Violet Gittens born in St. Michaels, Barbados around 1897. I know her family moved to New York during her lifetime, and that is how my branch of the Gittens family ended up in New York and then Pennsylvania, but I haven’t been able to find anything predating her.

    I’m looking for some resources to search for Bajan slave information, or to find out if there is any to look for…

    Thank You

  8. Reply
    Dr Marlon FRANCIS - August 21, 2023

    Hello Gittens Family,

    I am happy about the website, and I’d like to join this conversation because the maternal part of my family is Francis, but the paternal part of my family is Gittens-Whittaker. I am particularly interested in the Gittens part of the family who abode in the Watts Village/Haggatt Hall area of Barbados 50-60 years ago. The only names that I can remember are Erma Gittens and Eldon Whittaker. I will be looking forward to hearing from any family connections.


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