MOTTO: Vie et Liberate

There can be no truly certain origin of the Vibert surname, but like many names it probably was originally a Christian name which became adapted as a surname.

According to Messervy, a renowned historian, in a charter of king Stephen in 1136 mention is made of Benedict son of Wibert. In early times the spelling of surnames varied considerably and various forms of the surname can be found including Wibert, Wiberd, and Vibert, which had the same origin and are probably derived from the Teutonic word Wigbert which means war bright.

There does not seem to be any evidence to support the contention by the heraldist Payne who thought that the surname was of Tyrolean extraction.

However in recent years Karen Johns has done additional significant research on the Vibert origins. Her alternative findings are thus :-

As we know, the Tyrolean Alps are in Austria, which borders on Germany and Switzerland. Payne believed they started in Austria and his allusion to Switzerland was many, many years later. As France surrounds Geneva on two sides, it would be hard for a Vibert NOT to be there at the time mentioned.

They appear in England in the 4th century, under the name of Wigbeorht. They were Anglo-Saxons, from Germany. Saxony, was the largest German tribal area, in the northwest corner of Germany. Wigbeorht is a Saxon name. In 373 in the Onomasticon anglo-saxonicum; a list of Anglo-Saxon proper names from the time of Beda to that of King John three priests are found by that name. In 800, Bishop Wigbeorht dies in Glastonbury, England. In 814 Wigbeorht, Bishop of the West Saxon’s is in Rome. In 1117, an Abbot is listed as Wigbeorht.

That the Vibert’s are of Germanic origin cannot be denied – According to Bede’s ecclesiastical history, Vecta, in the late 4th or early 5th centuries AD, after the Roman’s withdrew from Britain, the Isle of Wight, along with parts of Hampshire was settled by Jutes, a Germanic people of Northern Europe. The island and southern Hampshire was a Jutish kingdom until the year 661 when it was invaded by Wulfhere of Mercia, an Angle from Germany. In 685 it was invaded by Caedwalla of Wessex (Kingdom of the West Saxons in southwest England), and was a part of Wessex, following the accession of West Saxon kings as kings of all England, then part of England.

When the Wigbeorht’s moved into France by at least 1200, if not earlier, the name became Vibert, French for Wigbeorht. There is no sound for W in the German Language, thus W is pronounced V. They settled in France’s Rhone-Alps region bordered by Germany and Switzerland, and by the 1300’s had moved into Normandy and the Channel Islands, which originally belonged to Normandy.

The Vibert’s from France, began to move to Southampton, Hampshire in the 1500’s. It was a major sea port which continued through the 1600’s. The name Vibert all but replaced the name Wigbeorht. In Southampton, John Veberd is found there in 1503, James Vibert in 1566. In 1567, Queen Elizabeth gave safe haven in Southampton, to Protestants run out of the Netherlands (Wallonia, Belgium), Northern France (Normandy) and the Channel Islands. Jehan Vibert came from Wallonia, as did many who joined the French Church the Queen gave them leave to build in Southampton.

So, the Vibert’s of Germanic and Celtic origin came to France then to the Channel Islands, then to England,  Southampton, several centuries after the Saxon’s ruled England and Bishop’s by the name of Wigbeorht, ruled the Catholic Church. So, they started as Roman Catholic’s and became Protestants.

The earliest mention of the surname in official Channel Island records was in Guernsey in 1274. In the rent roll of that year for the area known as Vale in Guernsey there is mention of a Robert Wiberd.

A few years later on the 23rd November 1292 the surname appears in the Rolls of the Court Assizes held by Robert de Leysset and the Prior Wenlock, Justices itinerant. A man by the name of Pierre Vibert appears as a juror for the parish of St. Brelade. Forty six years later in 1338 another Pierre Vibert was recorded as having been an archer who defended Mont Orgueil Castle against the seige of the French Admiral Nicholas Behuchet (1338-1345).

There is an unfortunate hiatus in the local records of the 15th century. Many have been lost, or neglected, and in later centuries many ancient parchments were considered to be plague carriers, and were burnt by order of the courts as a preventative measure against the spread of infection.

In the 16th century the Royal Court Records of Jersey began and throw some light on family history.

The surname is also preserved in Jersey geography. There are several records of districts and pieces of land bearing the name such as :-

“Le Jardin de Vibert” in Quennevais, St. Brelade 1620

“Reage De La Viberderie” a district also in Quennevais 1753

” Le Viberderie” a field in St Peter 1715

“Rue es Vibert” a road on the border between St. Mary and St. Peter

“Mont Vibert” a small hill in St. Mary near Greve De Lecq

It is believed that the latter road was so named as old property records show that there were three Vibert families living on that on short road.

The early church records clearly show that the in the 17th and 18th centuries the vast majority of the Viberts settled in Jersey were in the western parishes of St Ouen, St Mary, St Peter, and St Brelade.In fact at that time the majority were settled in St Ouen which is the parish I live in.

The Godfray map of Jersey of 1849 gives a listing of all the property owners of that time, and details of the main properties owned by Viberts is shown under the additional resources section. I have also looked up the early 19th century rates ledger and my findings are also there