The Goyetche Family Genealogy

Historical Notes

What’s in a name --- origins & meaning of the

surname Goyetche

Most Basque surnames are readily identifiable because they follow a small number of set patterns. The vast majority are not derived from an ancestor but rather from the family's etxea, the historically all important Basque family home. This name Goyetche means the house on the hill, mountain top, or pinnacle. Being a superlative, it indicates the highest point around. The word Goi or Goy means the one on top or the highest one. Exte is house. Goy "high place" + etxe or etche "house". Other variations of this surname include Goyenetche, Goienetche and Goienetxe. It is found in Arizkun, Aspilkueta, Iruieta, Ordoki, and in the valley of Baztan. Some branches went to Elizondo, Tarazona (Zaragoza), Velez-Málaga, and Peru. In Larabezua, Ustaritz, and Argentina it is also known as Gojeneche.

The benefits of an uncommon name

The question arises from time to time. Are we all related? In North America, the short and definitive answer is --- yes. Research indicates that, with only a few exceptions, we are descendants of Jean Goyetche, a Basque fisherman born in 1763 in the Bayonne region of France who arrived sometime before 1793 and settled in Cape Auget, NS. We are all cousins -- maybe 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th -- but cousins nonetheless. The few exceptions are those who came here more recently from South America, France or Nouvelle Caledonie (New Caledonia) in the South Pacific. It is likely they are related as well. If we were able to trace Jean Goyetche’s family prior to Nova Scotia, we might find he was related to Dominique who went to New Caledonia, those that went to South America and, of course, those who remained in France.

How do you pronounce Goyetche?

The pronunciation and spelling of the name tends to vary slightly among different branches of the family. In the Bayonne region of France, where our ancestors originated, the name is pronounced as a three-syllable word -- Goy (as in boy) etch (like sketch) ay (as in hay). No doubt there is Spanish influence in that pronunciation. On Isle Madame in Nova Scotia, with the French Acadian influence, it is pronounced Goy (like boy) eshe (as in mesh) with emphasis on the second syllable. In the Halifax region of Nova Scotia, it’s pronounced Guy – ash with emphasis on the first syllable. Some branches of the family have changed the spelling over the years. In Quebec, one branch dropped the “t” to create Goyeche. In Massachusetts, another branch dropped the “e” at the end to create Goyetch. And yet another branch changed the name to Guyette.