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.

7 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.

  3. Reply
    Garry Gittens - March 22, 2021

    Im in looking for family members all over the world

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top