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About the study

The Gittens One-name Study was registered in November 2012. It is a natural extension of my Gittens family history research which is centered on Barbados over the period 1640 to modern times.

Variant names

The registered variants in the Gittens One-name Study include Gittens and Gittins. These are all of the surname variations that were observed during the initial family history research.

Name origin

The surname Gittens has at least two possible origins:

The Welsh Origin: This origin states that the surname Gittens is a variant of the Welsh name Gittings and had the following meanings:

  1.  from the Welsh personal name Gutyn, Guto, a pet form of Gruffydd , with the redundant addition of English patronymic -s, meaning '€˜son of'€™.
  2.  possibly also a patronymic from an old Welsh personal byname 'Cethin, Gethyn', from 'cethin', meaning 'dusky, swarthy', and probably originated as a nickname for a dark (haired) person.

The English Origin:

This origin suggests that the name Gittens is an English surname. Recorded in many forms including Gidden, Giddens, Gidding, Giddings, Gedding,Geddings, Gittens, Gittins, Gutans, Guttans, Gutten, Guttens, Quiten,Quitten, Yetten, Yeotten and probably others. It is either locational from the places called Gidding in Huntingdonshire (now Cambridgeshire) and Gedding in Suffolk or it is from the pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon and Germanic name Gydda or Gudda. The place names are both recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "€œGeddinge"€, and share the same meaning and derivation. This is "€œthe place of the Gudda people"€ to which was added the Old English suffix "€œ-ingas"€, meaning '€œpeople or family of'.

History of the name

I am not aware of any Gittens who could be considered a truly historical figure. I have come upon the following notable Gittens references.

The Gittens family was one of the leading 18th century families in Barbados. Members of these leading families dominated the Barbados Assembly and were appointed to Council; they also filled posts in most civic institutions. Many were lawyers and clergymen by profession. Notable Gittens of the era included:

Honourable Colonel John Gittens (1712-1768) - The Honourable Colonel John Gittens was a member of the Barbados Assembly for St. Philip Parish from 1750 to his death in 1768. He was a Colonel in the Barbados Militia and also Chief Judge of St. Michael Parish, circa 1768.

Honourable Joshua Mayers Gittens (1741-1819) - The Honourable Joshua Mayers Gittens succeeded his father the Honourable Colonel John Gittens as the member of the Barbados Assembly for St. Philip parish in 1768. He remained in the Barbados Assembly until at least 1804. He served for a period of time as the Speaker of the Assembly. He also served as a Judge in many of the Barbados parishes. He was the Comptroller of Barbados, and Collector at Bridgetown in 1793. He was the owner of Pilgrim Plantation when he died.

Honourable Colonel Benjamin Gittens, Esquire (1730-1790) - The Honourable Colonel Benjamin Gittens was a Bridgetown merchant. He was appointed a Judge of the Exchequer in 1779, then, by a new appointment as Chief Baron of His Majesty’s Court of Exchequer in the same year. He was a Planter and in 1768 owned Green's Plantation. In 1783 Benjamin was the fifth person to hold the position of Provincial Grand Master in the history of Barbados freemasonry. Benjamin was a Colonel in the Barbados Militia and commanded the Royal Regiment of Foot from at least 1780 to 1787 and likely much longer.

The Honourable and Reverend John Hamlet Gittens, BA (1788-1863) - The Honourable Reverend John Hamlet Gittens, B.A. was likely one of the most influential persons in Barbados in his era. He was a planter, a politician who was a senior member of the Executive Council of the Government of Barbados, and a clergyman. He received a B.A. degree from Cambridge University, England and was ordained as a Deacon in the Anglican Church in Bristol on October 6, 1810. He returned to Barbados and served the church in many roles but most notably as the Rector of St. John'€™s church (1821-1845) a span of 25 years. Interestingly, his son George Duncan Gittens was also an Anglican minister who succeeded his father as Rector of St. John’s Church in 1847 and stayed at the church until 1862, some 15 years.

Other notable Gittens ancestors include:

Herbert 'Wyndham' Gittens (1885-1967) - Herbert 'Wyndham' Gittens was a West Indian screenwriter. He wrote screen plays for 68 films between 1917 and 1966. The films included Tim Tyler's Luck (1937), The Lost Jungle (1934), The Mystery Squadron (1933), The Three Musketeers (1933), The Devil Horse (1932), The Hurricane Express (1932), The Last of the Mohicans (1932), The Shadow of the Eagle (1932), The Lightning Warrior (1931), The Galloping Ghost (1931), King of the Wild (1931), The Phantom of the West (1931), The Lone Defender (1930), The King of the Kongo (1929), The Fatal Warning (1929), The Vanishing West (1928), Vultures of the Sea (1928), Desert Driven (1923). Herbert 'Wyndham' Gittens died in Florida, 18 June 1967 at the age of 82.

Lady Gertrude Agnes (Gittens) Cameron (1854-?) - Lady Gertrude Agnes (Gittens) Cameron is the only of our Gittens ancestors who has been elevated into the nobility of English society with the title of 'Lady'. Lady Gertrude married Sir Donald Cameron (1872-1948) in 1904 in Guyana (which was then called British Guiana). Sir Donald Cameron was a member of the British Foreign Service and he and Lady Gertrude subsequently spent many years in Africa where Sir Donald served as a Colonial Governor in Nigeria.

Name frequency

The frequency of the Gittens surname is calculated and presented here in two ways. The first is the number of times the Gittens surname appears (occurrences) in the population. The second represents how common the Gittens surname is and is expressed in how many times the Gittens surname appears in each one million of population. The Gittens surname is quite rare.

PlaceGittens Surname OccurrencesTimes per Million
England and Wales September 20021,00118.4
United States 2000 Census2,45210.1 
Canada 1911 Census 91.2 
Australian Electoral Rolls 1977354 

Distribution of the name

United Kingdom

  • In Great Britain the highest occurrence of the Gittens surname is in the West Midlands. Next lower occurrences are in Wales, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside, East Midlands, East Anglia, and the South East.
  • In Ireland, the highest occurrences are in the South East.


  • Low levels of occurrences are found in France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands.

North America

  • In Canada the highest occurrence levels are in the Provinces of British Columbia and Alberta
  • In the United States the highest occurrence of the Gittens surname is in New York state. Lower occurrences are found in many other states.

South America

  • Low levels of occurrence can be found in Argentina.


  • In New Zealand the highest occurrence is in the Gisborne District.
  • In Australia the highest level of occurrence is in the Northern Territory with lesser concentrations throughout the rest of the Country.


Research has focused primarily on the existing baptism, marriage, death, wills and land deeds held by the Barbados Department of Archives and published in part by Family Search and Very early baptism and marriage records were collected from the publication titled English Settlers in Barbados by Sanders, Joanne McRae. All of this data relating to the Gittens name is published on the Gittens One-name Study website.

More recently all of the United States Social Security Death Indexes have been collected for the Gittens surname, including its variants, and published to the Gittens One-name Study website.

Data Added:

Barbados Marriages 1854-1879 from Family Search Nov 26, 2011 630 individuals
Caribbean Marriages 1591-1905 from Family Search Nov 26, 2012 1,932 individuals

The next phase of the Gittens One-name Study data collection will focus on records in the United States.