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Gee of Rothley -- Oldest Family Line

The earliest Gee to which contemporary Gee can trace their lineage are Gee of Rothley. Their lineage stretches from the time of Chaucer to the present.

Rothley (pronounced “ROW-thley”) is a small village on the River Soar northwest of Leicester. It appears in the Domesday Book under the name Rodolei and belonged to the king. The name may have come from the Anglo-Saxon for ‘meadow in a clearing’.

Today it is an upscale community, but in the Middle Ages it was quite rustic. At Domesday there was a priest, 29 villeins and 18 smallholders. There were two ploughs for the king’s land and six shared by the villeins. There was one mill and two woodlands, one for the king and one shared by the villeins. Using an estimate made in 1331/1332, the villeins held around 400 acres.

The name Gee does not appear in the Domesday Book, which was written before surnames came into use.

Rothley adjoins and is closely associated with the village of Mountsorrel. Mountsorrel has a high hill where Hugh d’Avranches (also called Hugh Lupus, or Hugh “the wolf”), the first Earl of Chester, built a castle on the hill in 1080. Hugh Lupus was the son of Richard, Viscount d’Avranches, and probably a companion of William the Conqueror. By 1151 Robert le Bossu (Robert “the Hunchback”), Earl of Leicester, had acquired the castle.


There were other possible ancestors in the area. However Alexander Gee of Rothley remains the earliest Gee to whom any living Gee can trace continuously.

The History of Beverley, compiled by George Paulson (1829) shows the descent from Alexander Gee through about 17 generations to the 1800’s. He must have been born around 1380-1400 AD. We know that Alexander1 had sons Edmond2, who married Grace, the daughter of Thomas Baskerville, and Richard2, who married a daughter of John Villiers, esq. Edmond2 and Grace had a son, John3, who married the daughter of Thomas Nevill of Holt.

John3 had two sons, Robert4 and John4, and a daughter. And this John4 had sons Roger5, Henry5 and Thomas5.

Henry5’s son William6 moved to Hull (see history of Gee of Hull). The herald’s Visitation to Leicestershire in 1619 shows Henry5 with an older son, Eustace6, who inherited the family’s property in Rothley. The pedigree from this visitation shows that Eustace6 had a son William7 and a grandson, Eustace8.


The precise location of the Gee land in Rothley is difficult to determine. There are land ownership records from Rothley Manor in the 1580’s.

A bond describes land that Eustace Gee (this would have been Eustace6) owned near Rothley Common. In September 1578, Henry Clyff deeded to Robert Palmer “half an acre of land is called the Harpe Strynge between the lands of John Danvers and the lands of William Tarry on the south and the land of Eustace Gee, and adjoining the Swallowgate.”

In June 1582, William Palmer deeded land to Robert Palmer “1/2 acre of land adjoining [Le Oldefyelde], above Croshed, extending to the lands of Eustace Gee on the north and the lands of John Danvers on the south… A rood of land in Le Woodfyeld above Lyllandes with the land of John Parker on the north and the land of Eustace Gee on the south… ½ acre of pasture in Le West Fyeld with the land of John Parke on the east and the pasture land of Eustace Gee, now in the occupation of William Barnard, on the west…1/2 acre of land adjoining [land in Le Oldefyelde], above Croshed, extending to the lands of Eustace Gee on the north and the lands of John Danvers on the south…1/2 acre of pasture in Le West Fyeld with the land of John Parke on the east and the pasture land of Eustace Gee, now in the occupation of William Bernard, on the west…1 ½ roods of pasture situated in Sileby and Mylne, the land of the said Eustace Gee on the east and the land of John Danvers, esq., on the west.”

In December 1584, Richard Marshall deeded to Walter Perkyn “…1/2 acre of land called the Nether Furlong, between the land of Eustace Gee, gent., on the east and the land of Robert Palmer on the west…”

In October 1587, Agnes Martyn deeded to Walter Perkyns “…1 rood of land called Longelande, the land of Eustace Gee on the west and the land of Thomas Jewatt of Mountsorrel on the west… One ½ rood of furze, a furlong in length, between the land of Eustace Gee in the south and the land of Robert Martyn in the north…”

In November 1596, Thomas Needham deeded to Thomas Simpson “…one rood lying south of the town situated in the furlong called Long Bronsall between the property of Thomas Simpson in the occupation of Walter Perkyns, and the land of Eustace Gee, in the occupation of Thomas Marshall… ½ acre of land called the Linkefield or the Lingefield situatiod on the field strip called Dame furlong between the tenements of Eustace Gee, in the occupation of Clement Fuldes, and the tenement in the occupation of Thomas Jarratt, in the occupation of the said Thomas…”

In December of that same year Thomas Bacon deeded to Thomas Munke “1/2 acre of arable land situated in the Woodefield of Rothley, in the tenure of Thomas Munke, with the property of Eustace Gee on the one side and the land of Thomas Jarrett of Mountsorrel on the other side. Consideration: 4 marks.”

The final estate record at Rothley Manor for Eustace Gee is when he and his wife Ann and his widowed mother Elizabeth sold their properties to Robert Cooper of Cudlipp[?], Leicestershire. This sale covered Chester Place in Rothley, where Elizabeth was living and previously Frances Gee, also a widow and one of the daughters of Nicholas Ellin, two closes totaling about 16 acres which were previously three fields adjoining Chester Place and various properties, about 130 acres in all .

A survey of the estate was made by the enclosure commissioners around 1781, and a valuation of the manor was made at that time. By the time of the enclosure, no Gee owned land in Rothley.

Other property was owned in Silby, adjacent to Rothley on the northeast, and Thurcaston on the southwest. Land in Mountsorrel is also possibile--we know William6 left money in his will for roads there. The two towns are immediately adjacent and have long been closely linked.

The family business

Leicestershire was famous in medieval times for its wool. The production of woolen cloth was England’s premier industry from the twelfth to the nineteenth centuries. Up to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and William III, wool made up two-thirds of all English exports.

Leicester was famous for “long staple” wool. The fibers were several times longer than the short fibers of wool used for fill. The longer fibers made it ideal for weaving.

Initially Leicestershire’s long staple wool was exported, primarily to Flanders, known for its weavers, the best in Europe. By 1258 England prohibited the export of wool to encourage its own weaving industry, although frontiers were always leaky.

Instead, Flemish weavers were encouraged to move to England and brought their skills with them. With this influx of technology, by around Alexander’s time, Leicestershire was producing finer woolen products than just simple cloth.


The first Gee in Skidbrooke were associated with Saltfleet, which served as the port for the Droitwich salt pans. It was a port in the Domesday book and became a Royal Port in 1281.

The Gee were likely trading as early as 1332, and perhaps even earlier. There are no records to show at what the early family was trading, but within a few generations we will see that they were exporting wool.

The River Soar runs beside Rothley and Mountsorrel. Very unusual among rivers, the Soar flows mostly northwards, like the Nile. It flows north toward Nottingham, where it connects with the Trent and empties near Hull.

The rivers were the highways of commerce. What roads there were dated from Roman times. Taking wool and woolen cloth to market was a relatively short journey downriver to Hull.

The link between Skidbrooke, Rothley and Hull is that all are along the Soar/Trent/Humber water system. Very likely the early Gee were trading and exporting wool. Certainly they were by the time Henry5 and William6 movee to Hull. (See history of Gee of Hull.)

Place  Rothley, Leicestershire 
Latitude  52.71732 
Longitude  -1.129421 
File name  Gee of Leicestershire.gif 
Dimensions  x  
Linked to  Alexander GEE 

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