The Meaning of Some Guernsey Surnames


There’s a rich variety of traditional Guernsey surnames. Surnames that have been in the island for generations and with which we are all very familiar but may never have given any thought as to what they might actually mean. As you will see some are job related and some are just plain funny and maybe the result of what we today would call ‘Nicknames’.

As you may expect many are of French or Norman origin but others have a more unusual etymology.

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Allez – derived from the Frankish female name Adalgis, which in English became Alice

Amy – friend


Balleine – dwarf


Batiste – a variation of the French Baptiste, a reference to John-the-Baptist

Bichard – a little doe/goat herd

Bisson – a thicket

Blampied – the men with white feet

Blondel – blond/fair headed

Bourgaize – wag/jester

Breton – French term for Brittany

Brock – badger

Brouard – small wood


Carrė/Carey – square

Cleal – from a place called Clayhill (Anglo-Saxon)

Collas – pet name for Nicolas

Corbet – crow

Corbin – dark haired


De Beauvoir – from the town of Beauvoir in Brittany opposite Mont St Michel

De Carteret – from the town of Carteret on the west coast of Normandy’s Cotentin peninsular

De Garis – From Garris in France (a town southeast of Barritz, France in the Pyrennes bordering Spain )

de la Mare – of the pond

de la Rue/Duchemin – of the road


de Moulipied – of the wet feet

de Vic – someone from the Isle of Wight

Dorey – goldylocks

Dumaresq – of the swamps

du Prė – of the meadow

Duquemin/Duchemin – of the road

Durand – enduring


Falla/Fallaize – the man who hails from Falaise

Ferbrache – strong man

Frossard – a jostler


Gallienne – a type of ships : galley or galleon

Gaudion – ‘the descendant of little Waldo’ a pet name meaning ‘one of power’

Gavey – a short form of female name Genevieve.

Gibault – bill hook

Giffard – chubby cheeks

Gosselin – of the people

Guille – shortened version of Guillaume (William)


Hamon – ancester protector

Hardy – brave man


Jehan – an old spelling of Jean (John)


Keyho – from an old Sussex village


Lainé – eldest child


williamlelacheurOne of Guernsey’s most famous sons was William Le Lacheur. In Costa Rica he has appeared on bank notes, stamps and statues have even been raised to him. He is credited with transforming that country from being the poorest in Central America to the wealthiest, in less than a quarter of a century. He is quite literally regarded as a national hero there (see our article The Costa Rican Connection)

Langlois – from England

le Ber – bear

le Briseur – breaker

le Cheminant – wayfarer

Le Conte – one who played the part of a count or nobleman in a travelling theatre

le Cocq – cock

le Cornu – horn

Le Couteur – officer charged with care of the sacristy of the church

Le Cras – small one

le Feuvre – worker in iron

le Gros – big/corpulent

le Lacheur – net maker/raftsman

le Lievre – hare

le Maitre – master

le Messurier – one who measures

le Monier – mint worker

le Pelley – bald man

le Poidevin – from Poidevin, France

le Prevost – sheriff

le Roy/le Ray/Rihou – one who acted the king (in a play)

le Sauvage – rough customer

le Sueur – sower

le Tissier – weaver


Machon – mason/old male cat

Mainguy – store dog

Mallet – curse

Marquand – merchant

Mauger – tall, thin, person

Martel – strongman

Mignot – charming

Mollet – spineless or lifeless

Mourant – one who looked as if he was dying


Nicolle – derived from the baptismal name Nicolas (victory of the people)


Ogier – barley

Ozanne – pane of glass/glass worker


Paint – acted the heathen (in a play)

Palmer – palm-bearing pilgrim

Petit – small

Poidevin – native of Poidevin, France


Robinson – Robin’s son

Roussel/Le Ruez – red/reddy


Sarre – unbeliever

Sebire – sea bright, a warrior’s name.

Simon – biblical name

Smith – blacksmith


Tardif – snail


The truely amazing fact about the name of Torode is that every member who bears the name can trace their heritage back to the one small farm. Les Lorier (The Laurels) in St Saviours.

Torode – the son of Thorald

Tostevin – wine taster

Tourtel – turtle-dove

Trotter – too slow

Tupper – potter


Vaudin – son of God

Author: Robert

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