Select Gibson Miscellany

Here are some Gibson stories and accounts over the years:

Gibbs and Gibson

The Gibbs name is more to be found in the south of England, the Gibson name more in the north and in Scotland.   The following was the divide in the 1891 census.

1891 Census (000's)
Northern England
Rest of England
Gibsons had moved south.  But Gibbs was rarely to be found in the north.

Gille Brigte of Galloway

Fergus, the builder of an independent Galloway in the 12th century, left two sons to inherit his kingdom, Uchtred and Gille Brigte. 

For a time Uchtred and Gille Brigte shared the kingship, with Uchtred ruling in the east and Gille Brigte in the west.  Gille Brigte, however, ensured that Uchtred would not remain a rival to him.  He tore his eyes out and brutally mutilated him (blinding and castration being used in Celtic times to make a man ineligible for kingship), and then had him put to death.  

Gille Brigte ruled alone for nine years until his death in 1185.  He tried during that time to keep both the Scottish and English kings at bay.  William, the king of Scotland, succeeded in cultivating the friendship of Lochlann, Uchtredís son.  So when Gille Brigte died Lochlann became king under Scottish suzerainty.  

Gille Brigte's name in French accounts was Gilbert and it is thought that from him the early Gibsons in Scotland originated.

Lord Thomas Gibson the Patriarch

The patriarch of the Gibsons in Scotland is generally considered to be Lord Thomas Gibson, the second son of Andrew Gibson of Dumfries.  Andrew had married the daughter of Lord George Stirling of Goldingstones in Fife and moved there. 

Thomas himself was born in Goldingstones in 1469 and made the Free Baron of Goldingstones by King James IV.  He married Lady Elizabeth Erskine around 1490 and they raised four sons and two daughters.  The eldest son George succeeded as Second Baron after Thomasís death in 1515.  The second son Lord William was Dean of Restalrig and became the Scottish Ambassador to the Pope in Rome.

Richard Gibson the 17th Century Dwarf

Richard Gibson was one of a small coterie of dwarves collected by Queen Henrietta Maria in the years prior to the Civil War in England.   He started as a page to the king and queen, but was also a talented painter.  His small stature made him perfectly suited to a fashion of the time, portrait miniatures.

His skill enabled him to survive the fall of the monarchy, setting up his own studio in London and painting the likes of Cromwell himself.  He married another of the Queenís dwarfs, Anne Shepherd.  The event was made into a court spectacle.  The Gibsons then surprised everyone by producing a family of perfectly normal-sized children.    

Reader Feedback - William Gibson the Quaker Convert

The following ancestor - the fourth generation from Thomas Gibson of Lancashire - from my family tree might very well be the William Gibson who was that Quaker convert: 

ďWilliam Gibson Sr. born in 1629 in Caton, Lancashire and died in 1681 in London.  Married to Elizabeth Thompson who was born in 1630.Ē 

William Gibson II, William Sr's son, was born in London, but his son John was born in Virginia.  Since Frederick county, Virginia is one state where Quakers resided and John Gibson (generation six) was born there in 1725.  There might also be a connection here too. 

The entry I found on another Gibson family tree shows William as dying in Lancashire, not London.  This date and data corresponds to a Wiki dictionary entry for this famous Quaker.    

Gerald Gibson (

Gibsons in America

Thomas Knowlton Gibson, a Gibson genealogist in America, has claimed, in a rather exaggerated way, the importance of the Gibsons of Goldingstones to the Gibsons in America and around the world:

"Almost every living Gibson in the world is descended from Lord Thomas Gibson of Goldingstones, obviously excepting those who were adopted or changed their surname.   Many Gibsons in the United States, especially the New England area, are descended from immigrant John Gibson of Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Others descend from one of the seven George Gibsons, with many immigrating to the south and then westward, especially to Kentucky, Indiana and Texas."

Captain George Gibson and His Gibson's Lambs

In colonial America, few people were bilingual, much less trilingual.  Captain George Gibson, a Pennsylvanian who spoke English, French, and Spanish, fit the bill.  His grandmother, a French countess who had married a Pennsylvania miller, insisted that her children and grandchildren learn French and Spanish.  This made George Gibson the ideal man to tap for the supply mission to New Orleans.

Gibson was a huge man by 18th century standards, well over 6í5" tall.  His grandson remarked in his biography that Gibson never met a vice he didnít like.  Everyone liked George.  With his brother, John, he ran a frontier trading post.

At the start of the war, George Gibson formed his own militia company.  His men were wild frontiersmen who proved difficult to control.  Their idea of fun was to go to the local tavern, get drunk, and cause trouble.  Once, after Gibsonís men had been particularly rowdy, his commander yelled in complete frustration: "Gibson!  Canít you control your little lambs?"  From then on, Gibsonís company was known as "Gibsonís Lambs."

In 1776 General George Washington sent Gibson on a secret mission to New Orleans to get supplies from the Spanish.  He set off from Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh) with his men down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and arrived in New Orleans a few weeks later.

Gibson got the supplies.  But there were a few alarms along the way.  Gibson was put in a Spanish jail while his men were allowed to return by the overland route.  Gibson was eventually released.  He took the more dangerous sea route through the Gulf of Mexico and around East Florida and arrived in Philadelphia before his men had made back it to Fort Pitt. 

George Gibson was Colonel of the Ninth Virginia Regiment during the Revolutionary War, but died fighting Indians at the Battle of the Wabash in 1791.  One of his sons was Major General George Gibson, Commissary General of the US Army for thirty years, another John Bannister Gibson, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of  Pennsylvania.

Gibsons from South Carolina to Mississippi

The following is an extract from a letter written in 1878 by the Rev. J. G. Jones from Port Gibson, Mississippi to McKinley Gibson:

ďThere were three branches of the Gibson connection which settled in Mississippi at an early day - the parents of Rev. Randall Gibson near Natchez; the family of Samuel Gibson, the founder of the town of Port Gibson; and that of Rev. Tobias Gibson in what is now Warren county.  I will now write, from memory and a few scraps of memoranda, what little I know of these three leading Gibson families.

So far as I know these families all came from the valley of the Great Pee Dee river in South Carolina. Sometime in the 16th century three shiploads of Portuguese Huguenots voluntarily exiled themselves from Portugal rather than renounce their Protestant faith, and settled in South Carolina in the very region of county where our Gibsons were first found, and, from their elevated intellectuality, morality, religion and enterprise, I have long believed that they were the descendants of those refugee Huguenots, though I do not remember ever to have heard but one of the connection refer to this as a tradition of the family.

First, the parents of Rev. Randall Gibson came to the Natchez county (as it was then called), about 1781.  In order to avoid the hostile Indians, immigrants from the Carolinas would travel over land to the Holston river in East Tennessee.  There they built family boats and descended the Holston and Tennessee rivers.   Randall Gibson was then about fifteen years old and I have heard him relate this fact in connection with an attack made on their boat by hostile Cherokee Indians.

From the family Bible of Randall Gibson, he was born in September 1766, married Harriet McKinley in 1792 and died on April 3, 1836.  Randall may have had (and I think had) other brothers, but I only knew one, the venerable David Gibson late of Jefferson county who was near one hundred years old at the time of his death.  Unless they have died lately, he has two sons still living - Randall Gibson, Jr. somewhere in Texas and Fielding Gibson somewhere in California.

Second, Samuel Gibson and his branch of the connection were here in the beginning (if not before) of the present century.  In 1803 he sold the land on which the courthouse and jail of Port Gibson stands today.  He was a resident of the town for forty five years and he and his wife Rebecca were buried in the cemetery with plain headstones at their graves. 

Third, the first we know of the Rev. Tobias Gibson's family they were on Great Pee Dee river in South Carolina.  The family consisted of John, Tobias, Nathaniel, Malachiah, Stephen and Rhoda.  John remained in South Carolina and lived there to be upwards of ninety years old.  Malachiah and Nathaniel married in South Carolina and died there in middle life, but their widows and children came to this county with Stephen and Rhoda in 1802 and the following year settled in what is now Warren county.

The memoir of Rev. Tobias Gibson in the General Minutes of the Methodist Episcopal Church states that he was born on November 10, 1771.  He entered the ministry in 1792 at the age of twenty-one and died a little south of Vicksburg in the family of Nathaniel Gibson on April 5, 1804."

Gibson - Black or White?

Gideon Gibson, who lived from 1720 to 1792, ruled land and men in what was then the wild frontier of South Carolina.  His family first appeared in records when they applied for land in the Santee river area in South Carolina around 1730.  Although some objected to their being "free colored men with their white wives," in the end they were given permission by Governor Robert Johnson.  Gibson was said to have been a man of color who had married a white woman at a time when survival was far more important than color. 

His progeny drifted south and west to Mississippi and Louisiana where in the 1820ís and 1830ís Tobias Gibson passed fully as white and became a successful sugar planter, owning several plantations and hundreds of slaves. 
South Carolina, as well as most other Southern states, usually ruled in questions of racial identity that if an individual looked white and acted white then he or she was legally white.

Tobias Gibson bought a house in the middle of Lexington, Kentucky and soon made it a second home for his eight children, living a life of white antebellum privilege.  Two of his sons, Randall Lee and Hart, attended Yale, often debating against abolitionists in the run-up to the Civil War. In the war, Randall Lee became a Confederate hero and in the aftermath began his political career which culminated in a stint as a U.S. Senator from Louisiana.  Hart tried to salvage the family plantations in Kentucky.

During one point in Randall Lee's congressional career, a political opponent accused him of being partly black, getting publicity in such places as The Washington Post and the Times-Picayune of New Orleans.  In the 1890ís Hart Gibson was living in a mansion off South Broadway writing a treatise called The Race Problem. Typical of his time, he argued that while slavery was evil, blacks were inherently inferior to whites.

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