|origins & legends|
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|Links to other Geer sites welcome. We'd like to hear from you whatever the reason. References to books, papers, archives etc which list Geer, in whatever variation of the name, urgently wanted for all our international family to peruse.|
|WALLOON-BELGIUM-HOLLAND-FLEMISH: I received an e-mail from Sam Geer re our origins. According to his family's legend the Geers came from France with and during the Norman Conquest in 1066. Also the Geers in Belgium are known as Walloons, a mix of German and Roman intermarriage during the ancient Roman occupation of much of Europe. Ed's note: I've just found reference to a place named GEER with a small population of 2,600 25 Kilometers west of Liege, Belgium. The borough of Hollogne-sur-Geer is within the municipal district of Geer. Ref: http://www.2hwy.com/be/g/geer.htm
There is another town named GEER in Holland, a few miles south of Amsterdam and east of the Hague, see Topography
In the year 1336 King Edward III of England invited Flemish artisans to work in England. They were skilled in weaving and cloth making. Many of them settled in Norwich, Norfolk, and surrounding towns, so it can be assumed there were others living in various parts of the country, perhaps Sussex! In 1565/6 Walloons and Dutch, being Protestants, fled to England from the Netherlands to escape religious persecution. They, like their predecessors were skilled in the manufacture of worsted and silk materials. In 1582 there were nearly 5,000 in Norwich alone, so how many more were there overall in the country? (Ed's note: This to be researched asap...sorry grandad, perhaps you were right and we are of Huguenot origin).
CLAN McGREGOR-SCOTLAND: Whilst visiting Edinburgh some years ago I browsed in the window of the Tartan & Clan shop in Prince's Street. In the window was a small list of surnames each relating to a Scots Clan. Gear was related to the Clan Gregor. In response to my query with the Clan Gregor website, 'Children of the Mist' I received the following from, and many thanks to, Richard MacGregor: The association with the Clan Gregor probably originates with an outlaw named John dhu Gearr MacGregor who lived in the first half of the 16th. century. This is very likely a confusion some time ago on the nature of surnames and descriptive words in Gaelic. Gearr, sometimes Gair, means short, so John dhu Gearr was 'short black John' presumably he was only about 5' tall and dark haired.
(Ed's note: If the name Gear/Geer/Gearr is of Celtic origin that takes us back to Europe again).
Read about the possible CELTIC origins on the next page: Origins p.3
|Just to add chaos to confusion, a good friend of mine who has Irish ancestry, sent me the following:
"...source of information is 'The Surnames of Ireland' by E.Maclysaght, published by the Irish University press. Mac Geer; MacGirr; Mac an Ghirr. An old County Armagh name, also found in adjacent Tyrone where it is made short by translation of the word Gearr, earlier Giorr. The variant MacGeer is found in North Leinster.
Editor's note: I have just copied the following explanations from "Dictionary of Surnames" by Hanks & Hodges. Published by the Oxford University Press. ISBN: 0-19-211592-8 GEARY:
1. Irish, anglicized form of GAEL O'GADHRA, descendant of GADHRA, a personal name derived from gadhra meaning 'hound or mastiff.'
2. English from a Germanic personal name derived from GERI, Gari, meaning a spear. A short form of the various compound names with this first element. Further to this information I have just come across the following in: "A brief history of the Druids" by Peter Berresford Ellis, published by Robinson of London, page 28: 'Classical writer Polybius identified a Celtic tribe by the name GAESATAE. They were not a tribe at all but a band of professional warriors named from the word GAE, meaning SPEAR (thus, spearmen).' So, are we being presumptious and perhaps a little egotistical in suspecting we originate from the ancient Indo-European Celtic stock?
3. English name: A descriptive name for a wayward, capricious, passionate person. A derivative of GERE, 'fit of passion.' Apparantly the word is borrowed from Scandinavia. Perhaps the 'fit of passion' derives from a warrior brandishing a spear.
According to 'FAIRBAIRN'S CRESTS' the coat of arms applies to both the Kent and Devon names of GEAR and GEARE. As Sussex is adjacent to Kent dare we assume the Sussex clan also qualify? After all, many of the Kents came from Sussex.
Just come across another tantalizing fact: the blue coloured cat/creature with tongue sticking out, on the coat of arms, is virtually the same as that which belonged to Cardinal Wolsey in the 1500's. (Ed's note: I'll research this as soon as poss')
HUGUENOTS-FRANCE: My father told me many years ago, and his father to him, that we came over from France with/during the Huguenot migrations from religious persecution in the 1600's. I have since heard the same legend from other Geer contacts. Furthermore, I understand there is a river Geer/Ger ? and a town of the same name on the French/Belgian border, (see Walloon-Belgium above).
According to a Huguenot website, the Walloons were Huguenots. Ed's note: I'm now of the opinion we are not of Huguenot descent, our English habitation goes back much earlier than the Huguenot migrations to the UK. I could be wrong of course, for there may well have been several waves of Geer migrations over several centuries but, until we know for sure, then the Huguenot connection may only be one of many.
WHAT'S IN A NAME
According to several so-called experts who have written books on the meaning of names, Geer is supposed to be derived from a Middle English (Approximately 1000-1400 AD.) nickname ie; Gerish, quick tempered, capricious and passionate etc. After all my researching and the more I learn from many contacts in the UK and abroad, especially Europe, the more inclined I am to believe our name stems from a place name. There are many topographical features in the west ern counties of England called Geer/Gear etc, some going back to Iron Age settlements.There is an ancient and somewhat marshy area in Holland named Geer. A small town in Belgium, 25k west of Liege, is named Geer. I suspect there are many more Geer place-names. A page has now been created specifically to list geographical/topographical Geer place-names:
|But, we musn't forget nor rule out the possibility of the warrior/spear interpretation to which I can add another piece of useful information: I have made contact with yet another name variant GURR, who have ancestral links in Sussex and Kent. David Gurr tells me their name means a spear and or warrior, spearman! His family legend says they came over to England with the Norman invasion and conquest.|