Origin of Surname
The origins of this very common Jersey surname of long standing are strongly disputed. Jersey sources generally support the view that it means 'the Welshman' (Pays de Galles is the French for Wales), but sources in France, where the name is found in many areas, particularly in Brittany and Normandy, offer a variety of other derivations.
The most widely held belief, particularly in Brittany, is that the name is a a corruption of gaullois, 'Gaul' being the historic name for France, and that it was used to distinguish French speakers from Breton speakers in the far west of the country.
But there are other suggested derivations. Noms de familles de Normandie says that in Normandy, where Gallais is fairly common to this day, it comes from a Medieval personal name 'Galeis'.
Otherwise the French authority Dauzat supports the view that it refers to a welshman, Deshayes' Dictionnaire des noms de famille bretons believes it to be derived from 'Galès', a name given to a tall man. Another authority, Morlet, traces the origins to galois, meaning, in ancient French, a bon vivant (he who enjoyed the good things in life).
Then there is the question of which names are true variants of Le Gallais. In Jersey one of the most common early spellings of what was undoubtedly the same family was Le Gallez, and Galet has been viewed as a variant. However, Noms de familles de Normandie treats 'Gallet' and 'Galet' as entirely separate, with a meaning derived from old words for a stranger. However, other French sources lump 'Gallet', 'Galet' and 'Gallez' into the same set of variants.
The name is found as Gallais rather than Le Gallais in Normandy, but in Brittany the names 'Le Gall' and 'Le Gal' are common and they are said to refer to a French speaker among the Bretons
Charles Stevens' Comprehensive list of Jersey surnames, apart from supporting the Welsh theory, separates 'Le Gal', 'Le Gall' and 'Le Galle' from other variants.
For what it is worth, given the absence of any evidence that there was immigration, direct or indirect, from Wales to Jersey as early as the 15th century, we think the name is far more likely to have Gaul as its source.
All that seems certain is that the similar sounding Gallie is definitely a different family with a different derivation.
It will be seen from the list of variants below that the spelling in use in Jersey today - 'Le Gallais' - can only be traced back to the early 17th century, but other variants go back much further, 'de Galeis' being found in a 1226 record.
Although this is primarily a St Helier family, particularly well-known in the 19th century, it was, from the 1840s, also found in St Brelade, where Jurat Philippe Le Gallais owned La Moye House. The majority of Le Gallais entries in church registers are to be found from 1597 onwards in the baptism records of St Helier (403 of 575 total baptisms).
- Gallais, found in Normandy
- Le Gallais, 1607
- Le Gallez, 1490
- Le Gallet, possibly separate
- Le Galet, possibly separate
- Le Galays
- Galles 1515
- Le Galles l479
- Galeys 1255
- de Galeis 1226
- Gallie (probably not a variant - see family page for derivation
Payne's Armorial of Jersey
This family, which is supposed to have migrated hither from Brittany, has been naturalized in the island from a very remote period. It is divided into several branches, which, although the connection between them is not precisely ascertained, are universally allowed to derive from one common source.
One of these is represented by Matthew Le Gallais, Seigneur of Surville. Another, now settled at La Moye, in the parish of St Brelade, formerly possessed an estate at Rouge Bouillon, in the parish of St Helier; an estate which, as stated by the two Extentes, or Royal Rent Rolls of the 17th century, owed to the Crown the somewhat fanciful dues of two cabots of wheat rent, two capons, two hens, and fourteen eggs. This branch is represented by Philip Le Gallais, Jurat of the Royal Court, and Stipendiary Magistrate of the Police Court.
A third is represented by Mr John Le Gallais, son of Nicholas Le Gallais, who, through his mother, Elizabeth, daughter and eventual heiress of Thomas de Gruchy, of Trinity, represents also a branch of that family.
As borne by Matthew Le Gallais: Gules, a crescent, between six roses, or, three in chief and three in base.
Quartering : Argent, three trefoils, sable, for Payn
Gules, four fusils, conjoined, in fesso, argent ; a crescent, in base, for difference, for De Carteret
Per fesse, argent and or; in chief, a dexter hand, clenched, ppr, cuffed of the second; in base, a mullet of the first, for Poingdestre
Impaling : Azure, three crescents, or, for Nicolle.
Crest : A cock, statant, ppr., the dexter foot uplifted.
Motto : Jamais chancelant.
As borne by Philip Le Gallais: Same Arms, Crest, and Motto. Impaling or, on a chief, embattled, sable, three mullets, argent, a crescent for difference, for Amy.
As borne by John Le Gallais: Same Arms and Crest. Quartering: Or, fretty azure, for De Gruchy. Motto : Semper Fidelis
- Descendants of Symon Le Gallais, of Surville
- Descendants of Edmond Le Gallais, of Surville
- Descendants of Edmond Le Gallais, of Rouge Bouillon Added 2021
- Descendants of Francis Le Gallais, of La Moye
- Descendants of Jean Le Gallais
- Descendants of Jean Le Gallais (1720)
- Descendants of Richard Le Gallais
- Descendants of Richard Le Gallais 2
- Descendants of Francois Le Gallais Added 2016
- Descendants of Jean Le Gallais and Francoise Boivin Added 2018
- Le Gallais baptisms in Jersey
- Le Gallais marriages in Jersey (groom)
- Le Gallais marriages in Jersey (bride)
- Le Gallais burials in Jersey
Le Gallais biographies and other family matters
- Philip Walter Jules Le Gallais, cavalry leader
- Carlyle Le Gallais, politician and businessman
- Albert George Le Gallais, a prisoner of war in World War One and winner of the Military Cross
- Postcards sent to a collector in Luxembourg by a Le Gallais family in 1901
- Philip Le Gallais appointed to reservoir planning committee in 1848
- Charles Le Gallais appointed St Helier Roads Inspector in 1848
Great War service
- Le Gallais family members who served in World War 1
- NZ Le Gallais siblings in Great War: The story of nurse Lottie Le Gallais and her brothers
- Fernhill, St Helier
- Broadlands, Grouville
- La Ferriere, St Saviour
- La Moye, St Brelade
- Surville, St Helier
Builders working on an extension to the Bath Street store
Click on any image to see a larger version. See the Jerripedia gravestone image collection page for more information about our gravestone photographs
The church record links above will open in a new tab in your browser and generate the most up-to-date list of each set of records from our database. These lists replace earlier Family page baptism lists, which were not regularly updated. They have the added advantage that they produce a chronological listing for the family name in all parishes, so you do not have to search through A-Z indexes, parish by parish.
We have included some important spelling variants on some family pages, but it may be worth searching for records for a different spelling variant. Think of searching for variants with or without a prefix, such as Le or De. To search for further variants, or for any other family name, just click on the appropriate link below for the first letter of the family name, and a new tab will open, giving you the option to choose baptism, marriage or burial records. You will then see a list of available names for that type of record and you can select any name from that list. That will display all records of the chosen type for that family name, and you can narrow the search by adding a given name, selecting a parish or setting start and end dates in the form you will see above. You can also change the family name, or search for a partial name if you are not certain of the spelling
The records are displayed 30 to a page, but by selecting the yellow Wiki Table option at the top left of the page you can open a full, scrollable list. This list will either be displayed in a new tab or a pop-up window. You may have to edit the settings of your browser to allow pop-up windows for www.jerripediabmd.net. For the small number of family names for which a search generates more than 1,500 records you will have to refine your search (perhaps using start or end dates) to reduce the number of records found.
Since August 2020 we have added several thousand new records from the registers of Roman Catholic, Methodist and other non-conformist churches. These will appear in date order within a general search of the records and are also individually searchable within the database search form