Gervaise family page
The 1674 record of the baptism of Estienne Gervaise in St Brelade
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Origin of Surname
George Balleine refers to the personal name of Gervaise of two 13th Century English writers, Gervase of Canterbury and Gervase of Tilbury, to explain the derivation of this Jersey surname, which appears first in the Short Inquisition of 1274.
The name is very common in Normandy today, spelt Gervais, and it is far from certain whether the name came to Jersey from Normandy or England, although the former is probably more likely. Some suggest that the name may have originated in Jersey, but there is no real evidence of any names originating in Jersey and then becoming common in Normandy, or elsewhere in France. Several surnames, which early researchers suggested were of Jersey origin, have, with the benefit of access to wider records, now been conclusively proved to have originated elsewhere and to have been brought to Jersey by immigrants.
It certainly derives from the personal name "Gervase", composed of the elements "geri," meaning a spear, and possibly "vaulx", a valley. The name as a personal name was popular throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, because it was originally that of a Christian saint martyred by the Roman Emperor Domitian in the 3rd century AD.
A secondary developed source of the name in England is from the abbey and village of Jervaulx in North Yorkshire. This is a Norman French 11th century form of the river name "Ure", and "vaulx", a valley.
John Geruas, a landowner in Shropshire, appears in the tax rolls of King John, in the year 1202.
The family of Gervaise has long held a highly respectable position in its native parish, where, for some generations, it possessed the Franc-fief of St Brelade.
D'Hozier, in his Armorial General, Regestre II, mentions a Peter Gervaise, who was Secretary to Henry VIII of England, and who, by tradition, was supposed to have been a member of a family of that name settled at St Malo, in Brittany. It is far more probable, however, that this Peter Gervaise was a Jerseyman, and belonged to the family in this island; for among the muniments now in the possession of its descendants, is the original of a curious letter addressed by the Dean and Jurats of Jersey to Cardinal Wolsey, complaining of the mal-practices of their Bailly, Helier de Carteret.
It appears impossible to account for the preservation of this document in a quarter so remote, except on the ground that the then secretary, being a native of the island, should naturally be consulted on insular affairs, and thus obtain possession, officially, of so interesting an instrument. Nor would such an appointment be without precedent, for, if I am correctly informed, it was very usual, until the close of the last century, to attach natives of the Channel Islands to the service of the Houses of Parliament as secretaries, in consequence of their familiarity with both English and French.
- Gervaise, 1309
- Gervese, 1331
- Gervaese 1400
- Gervoise 1309
- Jervaise 1299
- Gerasius 1274
- Gervais (France)
- Gervase England)
- Gervex (France)
Jersey family trees
These wills created by members of the Gervaise family are now held by Jersey Archive. By visiting the archive site and using the names, dates and reference numbers shown here, it is possible to view a copy of each will. You will have to subscribe to the Archive's online service to do this. To find out more about this collection, which covers the period from 1663 to 1980, and how to search for your family's wills there, visit our Jersey wills page
- Jeanne Gervaise, bequeaths to the poor of St Brelade, £12 of the order 30 July 1774 - D/Y/A/12
- Tousaint Gervaise 25 April 1674 - D/Y/A/3