Pallot - what is the derivation of the name and when did the family arrive in Jersey?

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Pallot name derivation

What is the derivation of the name Pallot and when did the family arrive in Jersey? From a Pallot family booklet

Origins of surname

Professor Flutre, an authority on French surnames and their origin [1], lists Pallot as a variant of Pallas, who was a mythical Greek goddess.

Pallas (or Pallas Athena) was one of the important goddesses of Greek culture.

Other possible derivations are from the Latin Pala, a spade; the French Palot, a wooden spade for digging worms; French Pallette, a paddle for a boat, the blade of an oar, also a surgeon's basin for collecting blood; French Paletot, an overcoat; and from the Greek Pallium, an archbishop's cloak. [2]

Origins of Jersey family

There are three possible originns of the Pallot family in Jersey. One is Norman-French; the second, Huguenot-French, and the third, English.


About the year 800 AD, Norsemen from Scandinavia pushed out their distinctive 'longships' from the Norwegian fiords and proceeded progressively to what are now known as Iceland, Greenland, Northern Canada, Britain, Ireland and the coasts of Western Europe.

Groups of Norsemen had been raiding the coasts of France since 810. By 845 they had occupied a large area of France later known as the Provinces of Normandy and Brittany, including the tract known now as Manche and the Contentin Peninsular.

By this time the Normans had adopted and adapted the southern continental feudal system, whereby tenure of land was held in return for military and other services. This system led to the formation of a formidable military machine which proved a powerful weapon under the control of a strong man.

By 933 the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey were included in the Duchy of Normandy by William Longsword, a son of Rollo, originally a Norse invader, who was recognised in 911 AD by the King of France as the first Duke of Normandy. Norman families on the mainland sent their feudal underlings to settle on land on these islands granted to them under feudal tenure.

In 1204 Normandy became permanently independent of England. Absentee landlords of land in Jersey and Guernsey had to decide whether they remained with Normandy under the sovereignty of the French king or under the control of the King of England.

Phillippe de Carteret, descended from one of the de Carterets who accompanied William the Conqueror to England, decided to give up his Normandy possessions and came permanently to Jersey, to be appointed in 1204 as Warden (Governor) of Jersey. [3]

In his entourage was one, Michaux (Michael) Pallot, who, presumably was one of his trusted followers from the Carteret district on the Cotentin Peninsula.

People with the surname Pallot might reasonably claim to have descended from this Michael Pallot, especially if given names are consistently used in subsequent generations. On the other hand, Lt-Col J H Pallot, of La Tourelle, Gorey wrote in 1980 that, while there were two pages of Pallots in the Jersey telephone directory, he could only claim direct relationship with two of the families concerned.

In Jersey taxation documents for the year 1331, which list most of the heads of household residing in Jersey at that time, are included the names of Pallot and Le Mesurier. [4]

Huguenot links

A large number of Huguenot refugees from Religious persecution in France during the 16th century were named Pallot (spelt and rendered variously, as will be seen later).

Huguenot was the name given to French protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. The name originated from a local nickname given to the protestants of Tours in the Province of Poitou, who met nightly near a city gate named for the mythical king, Hugon. The first Huguenots were not only followers of Luther but also followers of a strong evangelical movement which progressed rapidly throughout Europe during the early 16th century.

Several waves of Huguenot refugees arrived in England and the Channel Islands immediately following the Massacre of the Feast Day of Saint Bartholomew (24 August 1572) and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (18 October 1685). However, during the century between those two dates a steady stream of refugees were departing France. [5]

As they arrived in England, they were registered in the various parishes in which they settled. Variations in spelling occurred as various Government and Church officials attempted to Anglicise the phonetic interpretations of their nases. It is probable that a large number were illiterate and could not spell their names.

In the records of the Society of Genealogists, London, the following variants of the family name Pallot were noted from Huguenot sources:

Paileet, Paillaud, Paillet, Paillier, Paillot, Pailloux, Palet, Palette, Palla, Pallard, Pallas, Pallat, Pallatt, Pallaye, Pallax, Palle, Pallet, Pallett, Pallier, Palliott, Pallos, Pallott, Pallut, Pally, Palot, Paloux, Palud, Palyet, Pallet, Parlett, Pellett, Pillart, Platt and Pollet.[6]

English derivation

William Collings Luis, in a publication printed in Guernsey in 1890, features a number of Guernsey families. He mentions a John Pallet, born c1590 in England, who was said to have been a chaplain of an English garrison "whose surname was Poulet, Paulet or Pawlet, corrupted into French as Palot or Pallot”.

The Paulets had a long and close association with the administration of Jersey. Sir Hugh Paulet was Governor of Jersey in 1550. In 1571 he was succeeded by his son, Sir Amias Paulet (1532-1588). Sir Amyas, as a Calvinist puritan, welcomed and supported Huguenot refugees then arriving in both Jersey and Guernsey in great numbers.

He was Ambassador of Queen Elizabeth to France from 1576 to 1579 and was later custodian of the imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scots, (1585-1587), being present at her execution at Fotheringay Castle, Northants, in 1587. Sir Amys Paulet was succeeded in turn by his son, Sir Anthony Paulet (1562-1600) in 1588, to be followed by Sir Walter Raleigh.

George Paulet resigned in 1614 at the age of 8O, having served Jersey for 56 years, first as Lieut-Governor, and subsequently as Bailiff [7]

Notes and references

  1. We have never heard of Professor Flutre. He or she is certainly not among the currently recognised authorities on French family names. The link to Pallas is considered far less likely than others suggested in our Pallot family page
  2. The name may also be derived from the French surname Paillette – see family page
  3. There is no record of a Warden in 1204. The first appointment was in 1206, and the title was Warden of the Isles, not of Jersey. The post of Governor was not created until much later. Philippe de Carteret may have held the title of Warden of the Isles, but not until 1232, and only for a few days pending a more permanent appointment
  4. Ignoring the question of who might have brought the name to Jersey, its origins in Normandy are by far the most likely of the three options put forward by the writer
  5. Whether or not this is true, few refugees arrived in Jersey from France during that period and they are not recognised as Huguenots
  6. The majority of these are unknown in Jersey. No Pallots are listed among Huguenot refugee abjurations. The family had already been present in Jersey for at least two centuries before the arrival of the first refugees. See further note
  7. The role of the Paulet family in the administration of Jersey during the 16th century is well documented. Church records of baptisms and marriages during that period have almost all been lost, but there are no references among those that remain to the surname Paulet in any of its various spellings. Nor is there any obvious link between Pallots and Palots whose birth was registered at that time and members of the ruling family. It seems most likely that the majority of Pallots present in the island today are descended in one line or another from the earliest immigrant(s) from Normandy. There are, as the writer indicates, records of Pallots in the island before any Huguenot refugees arrived. Although when this article was first included in the site none of the available family trees had been traced back earlier than 1588, and links had yet to be established between the early members of these trees, tending to support the probability of an influx of one or more Pallot families during the 16th and 17th centuries, a tree added in 2021 has its origins in the 15th century. There are births in the church registers predating the Huguenot era, providing further proof that the name was known in the island before any Huguenot refugees arrived. A further problem is created by the absence of any Pallot in the list of those religious refugees who took part in abjuration ceremonies, but these lists only start in 1685. There is a single Paillet, but he did not arrive in Jersey until the mid-18th century
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