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2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

When I married my husband, I was curious about my new name and apart from his immediate relatives, I knew of no other person named Jellows. Then about thirty years ago, I embarked on my first research into the name when following a day at my local library studying for an exam, I decided to look through all the telephone directories to see if anyone had the same name. This reaped 6 people we had never heard of and so my study began. We discovered amongst some family postcards that the family came from Stebbing, Essex and since we were living in Essex my initial study was easy.

However after a couple of generations I hit a stumbling block and I am indebted to a Ron Jellis who contacted me in the early days of the search. Although he is no direct relative as he can trace his family back to the 1500 in the Bedfordshire area, he did have a lot of information that overlapped with my search. Fortunately he was willing to share his research ( he had been delving into the family history for 20 years prior to this contact) and he has been very helpful and full of good advice. Following his urging, I registered my name with the Guild of One Name Studies which continues to help me track down missing links.

It soon became apparent that the spelling of the name varied not just over the years but even members of the same family spelt the name differently. In fact my husband's granfather was George JELLIS on his birth certificate, George JEALOUS on his baptism, George JELLOUS on 1871 census, and entered the army as George JELLOUS but leaves as George JELLOWS!

Variant names


Name origin

Many people are interested in how the name came about. I am afraid this is one question that I can only answer by giving possible reasons without any conclusive proof:

  1. The name may have been given because the family had some very Jealous people - I would like to feel this is unlikely but who knows!?
  2. There is a suggestion that it is derived from the Christian name GILES - and this looks possible when you notice an early spelling of the name as Gilles.
  3. It may be derived from a French name like Galleau or Jelleau. This is a possibility as I have had some people tell me the family came from France with the Huguenots.
  4. However I have been in contact with a researcher in the Netherlands and I am told that Jelles is a Dutch first name. I was told that name Jellis is a so-called patronym. (Fathers name) Jelle was, and is, a common given name in the northern part of the Netherlands. A daughter of Jelle was given the surname Jellesdochter (Jelles daughter). A son would have been Jelleszoon (Jelles son)

The surnames were often shortened to Jelles or Jellis in the case of a daughter and to to Jellesz in the case of a son. In Holland, during the 17th and 18th century these patronyms were often made more or less official surnames though the spelling could change.

This idea does seem to fit, as there appear to be a colony of the name in the Fen district. Perhaps these came over from Holland and helped to drain the fens in the 16th and 17th century.

Who knows if we will ever find the truth? As we dig deeper into our past it becomes more difficult as the records are scarce or difficult to decipher.

Distribution of the name

The name in many variants can be found in the following main areas:

Pitstone and Ivinghoe, in Buckinghamshire
Flitwick and Ampthill in Bedfordshire
Great Bardfield, Finchingfield and Stebbing in Essex
Saffron Walden, Ugley and Debden in Essex
Shudy Camps and Castle Camps In Cambridgeshire
Winwick and Leighton Bromswold, Huntingdonshire
Thrapston in Northants
Peterborough area in Lincolnshire
Holbeach and Wisbech in Lincolnshire
Greenwich in London

Generally in Britain the name can be found south of the Humber and many of the above families go back a long way in those areas.

The Essex family can definitely trace their ancestry back to the 1500'€™s but there is a possibility that the story goes back to the 1300'€™s in this area.

There are also occurences of the family name in Canada, USA and Australia