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Gidley

 

About the study

The Gidley One-Name study of Gidley family history and Gidley genealogy was formally begun in 2001, although I had been collecting all instances of the Gidley name, my maiden name, for about 20 years previously. The intention had been to find the origins of my 4 X great grandfather, William Gidley, who married Wilmot Reeve in Spreyton in 1795. He is still elusive, but along the way I have come across many Gidley researchers, who have generously shared their knowledge with me, and here I must thank Barry Gidley, Bryan Gidley, Ken Buss, Karin Gidley, Diana Doke, Monica Foggin, Randy Thackeray, Michael Brimacombe, Graham Griffin, Frank Rosaio, Charles R Gidley, and many others.

Variant names

The overwhelming majority of holders of the name spell it Gidley. In earliest times it was spelled Gydeleghe, and the further away bearers have moved from Devon the more likely they are to have it spelled as Gidly, Giddley, Giddeley, Gidlay, or even Gidling, but none of these spellings has survived. Gidleigh was also used, as in the village in Devon, and a couple of modern-day bearers seem to have re-adopted that spelling.
Unconnected names are Girdley, Gridley, Gidlow, Giddy and Gilley, but members of all these families have occasionally been officially recorded as Gidley.

Name origin

The surname Gidley belongs in the locative group of surnames, deriving from the village of Gidleigh on the edge of Dartmoor. It means Gydda's clearing, being from the personal name Gydda, and the Saxon word leah, meaning clearing. Tony Grumley-Grennan and Michael Hardy, in their book, Gidleigh: a Dartmoor village past and present (published 2000), make a good case for Gydda being none other than Gytha, sister-in-law of King Cnut, wife of the powerful Saxon nobleman Earl Godwin, and mother of King Harold. She was known to hold extensive lands in Devon, including the manor of Tawton. However, in 1988 Courtenay Gidley, a member of the senior branch of the Winkleigh line, was not convinced by this theory.
Michael Jecks' novel, The Mad Monk of Gidleigh, is not only a good read in itself as part of his medieval mystery series, but also gives a good picture of what life may have been like in Gidleigh in the Middle Ages, when presumably the ancestors of any present-day Gidleys left the village and then received it as a surname. Not an attractive picture of Gidleigh at all - 'He would soon be exiled to a much worse place - although how anywhere could be worse than Gidleigh was more than Mark could imagine', and 'It was hateful, this place.... Mark had known men who had laboured all their lives, but somehow they seemed less ancient than the shrivelled folk of Dartmoor. The people here had no sense of humour. Their existence was harsh, unleavened with laughter or pleasure. One survived, and that was all, in their world.' Those of us who have visited Gidleigh probably think of it as an idyllic place. Our ancestors may well have found life on the edge of Dartmoor rather different.

History of the name

The most eminent holder of the name was Bartholomew Gidley, a loyal supporter of Charles I. He bought the estate of Gidleigh in 1638, then raised and became Captain of the Tinners' Regiment, composed of Devon tin miners, who fought bravely in the King's Western Army in the Civil War. In the 1660s Bartholomew Gidley received a coat-of-arms (illustrated above) and in 1683 a silver medal, now in the British Museum, from Charles II. He became a Justice of the Stannaries, and was buried in 1686 at Winkleigh, Devon, in the Gidley Chapel, which he had had built for his family.
Philip Gidley King, a collateral descendant, was the third Governor of New South Wales from 1800 - 1806.
Dr James Williams Gidley (1866 - 1931), born in Iowa, USA, was an eminent palaeontologist who made many discoveries in the course of his explorations in North America.
Today a noteworthy bearer of the name is Sandra Gidley, M.P. for Romsey from her by-election win in May 2000 until the 2010 General Election. Her husband descends from the Gidleys of Dean Prior.
In the world of the arts there are Pamela Gidley, film star and actress in 'Twin Peaks', Charles Gidley, novelist (real name Charles Gidley Wheeler, who descends from the Gidleys of Winkleigh), Professor Mick (Gustavus) Gidley (also from the Winkleigh branch), a distinguished scholar of American Studies, and Tom Gidley, a video artist. There have been fewer Gidleys involved in the world of music, but Harry Gidley (probably 1889 - 1966 of Drewsteignton and the Winkleigh branch) was a mouth organ player, well-known in the Dartmoor area, and composer of Harry Gidley's Waltz, available on a CD entitled Moor Music. Harry's great-great uncle, Gustavus Gidley of Throwleigh, played both the violin and bass viol and was also paid for instructing the choir. Johnny Gidley in Texas has composed some songs of the prairies, and set some poems of Edgar Allan Poe to music. Brian Gidley was a singer/actor in a few London West End musicals in the 1960s and 1970s, and I have just (2009) discovered from his nephew that he is alive and well in New Zealand. A decade earlier he appeared, wrongly named as Bill Gidley in some programmes, in such musicals as 'Davy Crockett' at Hornchurch (he played the title role), and joined Anton Rodgers and Millicent Martin in 'A Happy Crooked Mile' at Cambridge. It comes as no surprise that he is quite closely related to Pamela Gidley, our film star. 2013 update: I must include under musicians Muriel Gidley Stafford, born in Adrian, Michigan, USA, in 1906. She moved as a baby with her parents, William and Louisa Gidley, to Leamington, Ontario, Canada, on Lake Erie, where the Candian Encylopedia of Music records that 'in 1921, after only six lessons from a local teacher, she became organist of St John's Anglican Church, Leamington. She became the first organist-choirmaster of the new (1927) Park Rd Baptist Church and remained there 31 years. Here she directed an annual carol festival that became a model of unhackneyed programming, featuring little-known carols... In 1970 she was deputy organist and director of music at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church. Stafford established her reputation as a concert artist ... in recitals in cities across Canada. She was a member 1927-52 of the staff and examiners' board of the Toronto Conservatory of Music (RCMT), teaching organ and piano, and a President of the Women's Musical Club of Toronto... She became the first woman chairman of the Toronto Chapter of the Royal Canadian College of Organists and also served 1957-9 as the first woman national president. Stafford received the first Distinguished Service Award from the RCCO.' Muriel's grandfather was George Gidley, born in Throwleigh, Devon, in 1848, a member of the Winkleigh Gidley family, who emigrated with his surviving children to Michigan in 1893. Her father, William George Gidley, moved from Michigan to Leamington, Ontario, where he was the Gas & Water Commissioner for many years, taking time out to serve as a Major in the Canadian Army, where he was awarded the MC for the drive on the Somme on Sep 15 1916.
In the world of sport there are Memo Gidley, an American racing driver of German and Canadian descent, Matthew Gidley who plays Australian Rugby League, and Martyn Gidley who has played first class cricket for Leicestershire and in South Africa.
Dr David Gidley is a Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan, and William Francis Gidley was Dean of the University of Texas at Austin School of Pharmacy 1924 - 1947. Dr John Lynn Gidley of Texas was a distinguished petroleum engineer who specialised in the sandstone acidising process, was responsible for at least 14 patents, became a visiting professor at Texas A & M University and was admitted to the exclusive National Academy of Engineers (for further details see blog post of April 9th 2009).
The vast majority of Gidleys have been upright citizens, and, indeed, at least 7 of them have been police officers in various areas. Henry Gidley was a Parish Constable in South Tawton as early as 1533. Three have held very high police rank - Edwin Brewster Gidley, Chief of Police in Ann Arbor, Michigan, David Harold Gidley, a Chief Superintendent in the Durham Constabulary, and Courtenay Giles Bartholomew Gidley, Deputy Commander of Police, Nigeria. In 1839 John Gidley in Cornwall was praised by a judge when John, suspecting he was dealing with stolen animals, released two heifers he had bought, in the hope that they would find their way to their real home. 'I think the public is very much indebted to you. You conducted yourself very well indeed, both as an honest and a sensible man.'
On the negative side there are, unfortunately, a few Gidley murderers. Two were called George Gidley: one was a ship's cook, hanged in Dublin in 1766 for the notorious murder of Captain Glass on the high seas. The other George Gidley was charged with the murder of a chimney sweep in Leeds in 1836, but found guilty of manslaughter. In fact, his name was almost certainly George Gidlow, and was mistranscribed as Gidley. In the state of Kansas in 1872 the dubious privilege of being the first person tried for homicide in Republic County was Stephen Gidley, probably one of the descendants of Jasper Mauduit Gidley of the Winkleigh branch. He had shot a love rival through the heart in a fit of jealousy, but a verdict of Not Guilty was recorded. In North Dakota in 1882 jolly 'Old Bill' Gidley of the Cornish branch, a stage driver, shot his best friend dead in a tragic accident at a turkey shooting match, after which 'Old Bill' barely smiled again. His wife deserted him with their daughter, Grace, and it took 11 years to trace Grace after Bill's death in 1896, so that she could inherit his estate.
Even sadder was the fate of Nancy Patricia Gidley, murdered in California in the 1970s, who is considered to be one of the notorious Zodiac killer's possible victims.
Cyril Gidley was shot dead in 1925 at a charity ball at Government House, Perth, Western Australia. In a sensational trial his former fiancee did not deny the shooting, but it was presented as an accident, carried out by a wronged woman, and she was acquitted.
And almost a complete Gidley family was wiped out in August 1889, when a terrible fire at their home in Exmouth killed William Thomas Gidley of the Cornish branch, his wife and three children. The baby, thrown to safety by Mrs Gidley before she collapsed of suffocation, died of burns and her injuries the following month. Only one daughter, Bessie, survived, after her father made her jump with a rope from the second floor window. The cause of the fire was never properly established, except that it had started in the kitchen of the Gidleys' shop in Chapel Street, over which they lived. Feelings ran very high in Exmouth, because no-one could access the mobile fire escape, hemmed in in the market place by barrows and other detritus. The owner of the premises had also been somewhat reluctant to allow the fire brigade access to the empty next-door house, and the windows in the nearly new house were inadequate, and had been partly taken from a hall previously destroyed by fire. The fire brigade also came in for criticism for the difficulty in rousing them.
Finally, there seem to have been three Gidley centenarians in the UK so far (data available to 2006): George Gidley of the Dean Prior branch who died in 1917 in Newton Abbot registration district aged 101, Emily E Gidley of the Winkleigh branch who died in 1957 in Bournemouth registration district aged 103, and Edith Mary Gidley, also of the Winkleigh branch, who died in Truro registration district in March 1996 aged 101.
2008 footnote: I have been intrigued to discover that there is a recently devised printer font family called Gidley JNL, devised by Jeff Levine in the USA, and described as having strong Art Deco influences. It is only available to download after payment.

Name frequency

In a website based on data from the GRO in September 2002 Gidley is ranked as the 10,385th most common surname in Great Britain. The living population in this country is estimated to be about 520, and holders of the name in this country since parish registers began in the 16th century are estimated to be approximately 1,960. In the UK in 1881 there were approximately 540 people named Gidley, of whom over half were living in Devon.
In the USA WhitePages.com (the American telephone directory) estimates that there were 865 'unique Gidley last names' in the US (December 2008 figures), and that Gidley ranks as the 22,007th last name. Top states were Texas with 80 listings, Alabama with 74 , Michigan with 67, California with 60 and Indiana with 56.

Distribution of the name

The vast majority of name holders can trace their ancestry to the West Country, to Devon especially, or to Cornwall. Many still live in Devon. There seem to be 3 main branches, which are not related to each other, (plus a lot of mystery branches, listed below, including mine, of which some are quite large):
1) The Gidleys of Winkleigh, Devon. The members of the senior branch are the only Gidleys entitled to use the coat-of-arms above. Several entered the legal profession, and they spread to Chagford, Throwleigh, Honiton, Exeter, Plymouth, and to London and beyond. Some emigrated to the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Anyone descended from this branch could not do better than consult C.G.B. Gidley's work, 'Traditions in the Plymouth branch of the Gidley family', which he compiled for future researchers in 1988, and deposited in the Devon Record Office, together with a box of family papers inherited by his father. It is a very readable account of this particular family, with a wealth of drawings, sketch maps, hand-drawn family trees, and details of the intriguingly named Case of the Migrant Pulpit brought against Winkleigh churchwardens in 1920. Many of this family are also recorded in Visitations of Devon vol. 12, with a supplement in a later volume which details the Honiton branch, whose most eminent member was Town Clerk of Exeter in the early-Victorian period.
2) The Gidleys of South Devon. Gidleigh village is situated on the old Mariners' Way, which linked the ports of North and South Devon, and it was presumably relatively easy to migrate south. Indeed, there is talk of Michael Jecks's Mad Monk (see above) intending to make his escape out of Gidleigh to the Blackaton Brook, then following that till it met the Teign, then down the river banks to the sea.
Based on Buckfastleigh and Dean Prior, then Rattery, Dartington and Egg Buckland, many of these Gidleys were involved in the woollen industry. Some followed it to Bradford, Yorkshire, and beyond, while others emigrated to the USA and Australia. One son, a tailor, founded a family in Uxbridge, Middx. (later Paddington), another moved to Torquay, where he was a shipwright.
3) The Gidleys of Cornwall. There have been Gidleys in Cornwall since parish registers began in the 16th century. By the 19th century they were mainly tin miners around Helston and Redruth, and as this industry died out, so did most of the Gidleys in Cornwall. Many emigrated e.g. to the USA, Mexico and Canada.
There were also Gidleys in the 17th century in London, in Somerset, in the Medway towns of Kent, and in Leicestershire.
Of the 'mystery' branches, most of which will probably turn out to be related to other branches, there are descendants named Gidley living today in the UK from the following branches:
1) Descendants of William Gidley born in Bovey Tracey, Devon, about 1805, who married Fanny Cudmore in 1834, and whose children were born in Kenton, Devon.
2) Descendants of John Gidley who married Grace Rouden in 1745 in Cheriton Bishop, Devon. One grandson moved to Woodbury, Devon, and left a large number of descendants. A great-great grandson, John Gidley born in Whitestone, Devon in 1841, moved to live with an aunt in Kent and has also left many descendants.
3) Descendants of William John Gidley aka John Gidley, or even William John Gidley Clampitt, who married Hannah Johns in 1864 in Stoke Damerel, and who moved to Burnley, Lancs. They left such a large number of male descendants that by 2003 the largest number of Gidleys in the UK were living in the Burnley area.
4) Descendants of Bartholomew Gidley, born about 1806 in Bermondsey, Surrey, and his wife Sarah Cox, who settled in Shoreditch. Although the final link still needs to be made, it looks as if he was the son of Robert Pyne Gidley of Topsham, Devon, a cordwainer. Robert was the son of Bartholomew Gidley and Elizabeth Pyne, who married in Stoke Damerel in 1758. This Bartholomew was a midshipman on HMS Hampshire at the time of his marriage and was possibly a younger brother of Robert Gidley, the solicitor in Honiton and was therefore an uncle of Philip Gidley King of New South Wales, who also had a naval background.
And finally 5) My own branch descended from William Gidley who married Wilmot Reeve in Spreyton, Devon, in 1795. Some descendants moved to London, Birmingham and Australia.

The 'mystery' branches where there seem to be no Gidley descendants in the male line in the UK (please let me know if I'm wrong!) are as follows: (there are of course many descendants in the female line)
1) The descendants of George Gidley born about 1802 in Bovey Tracey, Devon. He married Sarah Colman and moved first to Dover, then to Poplar.
2) The descendants of John Gidley of Brixham, Devon and his wife Hannah Earle, who married in 1789. He was a trawlerman, and like many of his trade, as times grew hard in Brixham John and his family moved firstly to Ramsgate, Kent, then to Hull, Yorkshire, and finally settled in Grimsby, where they prospered, as probate records show. One son emigrated to Australia, and there may well be Gidleys from this line there.
3) The Gidleys of Chudleigh. A confusing tree, whose members are difficult to track at present. Some are descended from George Gidley and Susanna Brookland who married in Zeal Monachorum in 1724. One particular family based in Chudleigh moved first to Bishopsteignton, Devon, then emigrated to Australia, where there are many descendants. The settlement examination of Joseph Gidley in 1833 is transcribed here, to show the difficulties in tracking this particular Gidley of Chudleigh:
'The examinant was born in Chudleigh, and informed by his father that he (his father) was born at Bow, near Crediton, and when young he worked with his father at Whiteway in Chudleigh, where his father lived as a gardener, and continued to work with his father in the gardens at Chudleigh until about the age of 10, when he went to Bristol and worked by the week on the nursery grounds of Miller and Sweet about 12 months. Then he went to Dawlish and agreed to work for Sir William Watson to work in his gardens at 7/- a week wages, and after he had worked there about a year and a half went into the house of Sir William Watson and had his meat and drink there, but slept out of the house and his wages continued at 7/- a week and that he had worked and had his meat and drink in the house about 3 years.
The examinant and his master had some words and Sir William Watson gave him a month's notice to leave the service and quitted at the end of the month, then agreed with Lady Paulett for 25 guineas a year wages and lived with her ladyship about 8 months, then went to Mount Edgecombe and agreed with the Head Gardener at 10/6 a week wages and lodged at the Garden House and continued there about 2 years when he got married at Stoke Church and further saith that he has done no other act to gain a settlement.' The decision went against Joseph, and the Chudleigh churchwardens and overseers were requested to deliver him and his wife out of Chudleigh to Dawlish, which was considered to be his legal settlement.
4) The Gidleys of Deptford, Kent. Another confusing tree, involving more than one family, who may or may not be linked. Two heads of families were Thames lightermen, and there is a possibility that their surname was actually Gridley. John Gidley baptised in 1785 in Deptford was the son of George Gidley and his wife Sarah. It is presumed that this is the same John Gidley who was bound as an apprentice waterman to Edward Farrell in Deptford in 1804, gaining his freedom in 1814. Having examined the baptismal affidavit books for watermen at the Guildhall, I see that John's baptism was vouched for by a fellow waterman, usually a close relative. No trace of any earlier Gidleys can be found in the watermen's records, but there is certainly a William Gridley, who was baptised at St Olave's, Southwark, in 1770, and who was the son of another William Gridley, waterman, baptised 18 February 1746 in Welnetham, Suffolk.
5) Two small branches living in York and Islington in the 19th century and descended from John Gidley and Mary Maria Treweeke who married in Stoke Damerel in 1815. It is looking increasingly likely that this branch links to the Ashreigney part of the Winkleigh family.
6) There are also some isolated, small trees of families in Plymouth.
7) Gidleys in London in the 19th century are still not all allocated to trees yet.

Emigration
It was noticeable, though, I suppose, fairly obvious, that many of those Gidleys who emigrated or who just moved long distances in this country were illegitimate, or had step-parents. It was also fairly common for the husband to emigrate first, and be joined some years later by the rest of his family.

Gidley family history in the USA.
There are now far more Gidleys in the USA than there are in the UK. Thanks are owed to my distant Gidley cousin Carol Gertner, whose generosity has allowed me to build a preliminary picture of the Gidleys in America. No doubt there is more to be discovered.
By 1850 they were in the following states:
1) Massachusetts.
The earliest Gidley family known to be in Massachusetts was that of Henry Gidley, his wife Joan, and their children born in Boston 1663 - 1670. The large family of Gidleys in Dartmouth and New Bedford, Massachusetts, all seem to descend from Henry's son, Hezekiah. Possibly another and quite different family are the descendants of Content Gidley (whose origins are still uncertain) through her son, William, who married Phebe Mosher in New York state. The offspring of this particular couple spread over the USA in a remarkable manner, and none remained in the Eastern US by the third generation.
Roughly contemporary, but in Newport, Rhode Island, was John Gidley b. ca. 1671 in London, and part of the Winkleigh branch of Gidleys. A complete pedigree of John's descendants was known to exist in about 1920, but now seems lost, and by the 1850 census there do not seem to be any Gidleys in the male line traceable to him. Nor can I at present link John with Henry Gidley in Boston.

2) New York State.
Jasper Mauduit Gidley from the Honiton part of the Winkleigh branch also went to America. Described in his father's will as 'my unhappy son', he fought against the British in the American War of Independence. He was in Albany County in 1800, and left 5 sons, of whom at least three moved on to Michigan, where they founded families. Other sons remained in New York State, and left many descendants.
Some of the New York Gidleys were descendants of the Massachusetts family of Content Gidley. They had settled in Saratoga County by the end of the 18th century, and many were known to be Quakers. They quite quickly spread further west to the Mid West, and then on across the Rocky Mountains to Oregon, Washington State and California. The move to the Black Hills of South Dakota led to James Williams Gidley's career as a distinguished palaeontologist.
3) Virginia.
In 1769 a John Gidley was transported to Virginia for stealing a bale of cloth in the Crediton area of Devon. It is not yet known which family he belongs to. At first it was thought he must be the John Gidley born ca. 1735 from the Spreyton part of the Winkleigh branch, who was married to Mary Blanchard (a co-defendant in John's trial was a Blanchard), but this John is known to have fathered a son in 1773 in South Tawton, Devon. A tantalising reference in the parish register entry for this baby's christening mentions 'the father having been transported', but this probably refers to John's removal back to Spreyton in 1772 under the Poor Law settlement arrangements. By 1790 either John the Transportee or his son John had moved to Kent County, Maryland, and then later to Monongalia County, now in West Virginia.
4) Alabama.
The story goes that James Gidley born 1796 of the Buckfastleigh part of the South Devon branch stowed away on a ship to America in about 1815, was shipwrecked, rescued, and carried to South Carolina. By 1850 he and his large family were living in Benton County, Alabama. By the end of the 19th century the meat trade had taken at least one branch to Texas.
5) Illinois.
Descendants of the New York branch of the Massachusetts family.
6) Indiana.
a) Miami County. Descendants of John, transported to Virginia.
b) Porter County. John Gidley of the Dean Prior part of the South Devon branch, his wife Mary (nee Maddick) and his son John.
7) Maryland.
In Baltimore in 1850 there was a Gidley family whose race was given as black. They are possibly associated with John the Transportee (or his son John), whose census entry in Maryland in 1820 lists 2 coloured males.
8) Ohio.
a) Morrow County. Descendants of the New York part of the Massachusetts Gidleys.
b) Washington County. Descendants of John the Transportee.
9) Pennsylvania and 10) Virginia.
Also descendants of John the Transportee.

Ten years later in 1860 even more states had Gidley families, or more familes had arrived from different origins:
11) California.
Gidleys from Cornwall, attracted by the mining. William S Gidley's origins in England are uncertain but he is the right age to belong to the Cornish Gidleys, with the S commemorating his mother's surname of Simmons.
12) Illinois.
Descendants of Samuel Gidley and his wife Susanna Mann, from Buckfastleigh, are enumerated in Rock Island County.
13) and 14) Iowa and Michigan.
More descendants of the New York Gidleys.
15) Missouri.
a) Caldwell County. Descendants of John the Transportee.
b) Sainte Genevieve. The German Guethle family from Baden in Germany, some of whom anglicised their name to Gidley.
16) Ohio.
The existing Gidleys were increased in Lucas County by Richard and Dinah Gidley and their family from the Winkleigh branch, and in Cuyahoga County by William and Sarah Gidley from the Dean Prior branch.
17) Wisconsin.
More Gidleys from Cornwall, who came to extract the lead in Mineral Point, in common with many other Cornish families. One son, Richard, fought in the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry in several battles of the American Civil War, and claimed to have fired the first shot from the infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg, although this is completely unsubstantiated by any military expert.

After 1860
More families arrived, including James Gidley and his wife Christiana, who emigrated to Orleans County, New York State, with their family in about 1867. He was descended from the Dean Prior Gidleys of South Devon, as was another arrival, Edwin Gidley who emigrated to Philadelphia in 1868, and was joined by his wife and family in 1874. The textile mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts, attracted Gidleys working in the woollen industry in Buckfastleigh, including three brothers who emigrated in the 1890s. One is the ancestor of Pamela Gidley, film star and actress in the USA.
In Michigan John Gidley married Ellen M Kellum in Jackson County in 1866 and founded a family. He was born in England in about 1843, but it is not certain to which family he belongs. It is looking likely that he is one of the Winkleigh Gidleys, possibly a son of Richard Gidley and his wife Dinah Herbert from Throwleigh, Devon, who emigrated to Ohio, USA, with most of their family between 1851 and 1860.

Gidley family history in Canada
Canada attracted fewer Gidleys than the USA, they tended to emigrate at a later date, and many of those that did start off in Canada subsequently moved over the border to settle in America.
To date I have found 7 families who emigrated to Canada.
1) Thomas Gidley of the Ashreigney part of the Winkleigh branch. Born in Plymouth in 1804 he moved first to London, and in 1833 was possibly the carpenter found not guilty at the Old Bailey of housebreaking. In 1843 he and his 5 sons emigrated to Ontario, and settled in Huron County where he became a respected citizen and JP. Some of his descendants later moved on to the US.
2) Some members of the Egg Buckland branch of the South Devon family emigrated to Canada where they were found on Prince Edward Island in the 1881 and 1891 censuses. Other members of that family emigrated firstly to Canada in 1856, then in 1871 onwards to Saunders County, Nebraska, USA. Several family members from both branches seem to have gone further westwards to British Columbia.
3) John Gidley, sometimes known as John Gundry Gidley, of the Gidleys of Cornwall, emigrated between 1851 - 1854 to the Great Lakes area. He spent time in both Canada and the upper peninsula of Michigan, USA, before finally settling in Penetanguishene, Ontario, on Georgian Bay. He was described on his death in 1893 as 'Captain John Gidley, boat builder and mariner, who pioneered the development of Canadian watercraft'. His descendant Bryan Gidley runs the Gidley Family website and the Gidley DNA testing project (see link below).
4) John Gidley, a blacksmith from Dittisham, and part of the South Devon Gidleys, emigrated with his large family to the Hamilton area of Ontario in 1871. Again, some of the family later moved to the USA.
5) Bartholomew Gidley of the Winkleigh branch, born in Chagford in 1845 and a tailor by profession, had emigrated to Canada by 1872. He brought up his family in Westminster, Ontario.
6) Frederick Henry Gidley born in Poplar, London, and descended from the South Devon Gidleys, probably emigrated to Canada in 1868. By 1900 he and his wife were in Westminster, Ontario, and a possible son was in Chicago, moving later to New York.
7) One of the Chudleigh Gidleys, Hubert John W Gidley, died in 1913 in Vancouver.

Gidley family history in Australia
Australia is a difficult country to research, because of the government's policy of destroying all personal details from the censuses. Consequently, all I have to date can be summed up as follows:
1) In 1821 two men, William Gidley and George Gidley, listed consecutively, so possibly related, were listed in convict gangs issued with rations in Sydney. It is not known who they were, or what became of them.
2) John Gidley, who married Elizabeth Facey in Chudleigh in 1819, followed, with the rest of his family, his oldest daughter Mary Ann Gitsham and her family who had emigrated to Australia in 1849. John's origins are not known. He was possibly from Chudleigh, or possibly from Bovey Tracey. He died in 1884 in Kangaroo Flat, Victoria. Some of his family moved to Adelaide, South Australia.
3) Hubert Gidley, one of the Chudleigh family, and born in Great Torrington in 1820, emigrated, probably to Victoria, in the early 1850s. There were several letters waiting for him in the 1860s which were indexed in the uncollected letters index from that state. His family left behind in Bishopsteignton, Devon, were left destitute, and don't seem to have joined him in Australia.
4) James Gidley and his wife Susan, one of the Winkleigh branch, and born in Christow, Devon, in 1840 emigrated with their 2 sons in 1878-9 to Auckland, NZ, where a daughter Ellen was born in 1885, then moved on again in 1889 to Lithgow, New South Wales to work for Sir John Hay in Sydney.
5) Three Gidley seamen decided to settle in Australia. The first was one of my own line, Albert Frederick William Gidley, born 1867 in Southampton, Hants., who emigrated in the 1890s to New South Wales, and married there.
6) The second seaman was Herbert Samuel Gidley, born in Grimsby, Lincs., in 1873. He also married in New South Wales in the 1890s, and settled there.
7) The third seaman was again from my line, John Martin Gidley, who sailed from Plymouth with his wife and two daughters in 1911.
There will no doubt be others.

Gidley family history in New Zealand
A Henry Gidley, whose origins are not yet known, was awarded a grant of land from the Crown Lands Office in Auckland in 1870. Hannah Gidley died in 1892 aged 63, and again her origins are unknown. Most of the other Gidleys that I know to have emigrated to New Zealand (apart from James and Susan Gidley whose brief stay is mentioned above in the Australia paragraph) were from the Winkleigh branch. The 2 youngest sons of Gustavus Gidley, solicitor of Plymouth, and from the senior Winkleigh line, emigrated in the 1870s - 1880s to South Island, where they were buried in 1913 and 1946 respectively. One son of Northleigh, the elder son of Gustavus, was killed in France in 1918. The younger son, William Gustavus, left descendants on South Island. Robert, the younger son of Gustavus, and who was described as a gardener at his burial, had 2 daughters.
Another of the Winkleigh branch, Richard Hamlyn Gidley of Whitchurch, Devon, died in Wellington, New Zealand in 1913, where his will was proved.
Leonard Arthur James Gidley, a seaman from Poplar, but whose family originated in Buckfastleigh, married in New Zealand in 1920.

Data

I hold all the Gidley GRO entries of births, marriages, and deaths 1837 - 2006 (marriages to 2005). 2012 update: I have collected the most recent references for births, marriages and deaths up to 2011.
I also have the census entries for the UK 1841 - 1911, and the probate index entries 1858 - 1966. There is a growing number of parish register entries. Do contact me by e-mail or letter if you wish me to look anyone up.
Meanwhile, pedigrees have been built up of the various branches listed above. The two biggest, for Gidleys of Winkleigh, and Gidleys of South Devon, both hold over 2000 names. There are still some Gidleys not allocated to a tree, so all information is very welcome.

DNA

Organised by Bryan Gidley in Canada:
'The Gidley family DNA testing project is for individuals with the surname Gidley and similar names. The haplogroup of our family is R1B and possibly others. Our family is believed to derive its name from Gidleigh in Devonshire, England, and a possible connection to the Guethle family from their German origins. My Bryan's traditional paper research suggests that all Gidleys from England share a common ancestor. This project can help to prove that and also enable many of us to follow our lines back to Gidleigh in Devonshire. My Bryan's ancestor Leonard Gidley was born in or near Breage, Cornwall, England, abt 1700. Is he one of your ancestors too? You can follow this link to learn more

http://www.ftdna.com/surname_join.asp?code=K59345&special=true

'A Surname Project traces members of a family that share a common surname. Since surnames are passed down from father to son like the Y-chromosome, this test is for males taking a Y-DNA test. Females do not carry their father’s Y-DNA and acquire a new surname by way of marriage, so the tested individual must be a male that wants to check his direct paternal line (father’s father’s father’s…) with a Y-DNA12, Y-DNA37, or Y-DNA67 marker test. Females who would like to check their direct paternal line can have a male relative with this surname order a Y-DNA test. Females can also order an mtDNA test for themselves such as the mtDNA or the mtDNAPlus test and participate in an mtDNA project.'
See below for Bryan's website.

Links

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