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. Cape Breton to Texas - Marie’s story  In the late 19th century, a young girl named Marie Goyetche and her family from Cape Breton joined a great out-migration of more than 250,000 Maritimers, almost 30 percent of the population of the region at the time, destined for the “Boston States”.  Among the Goyetche’s who migrated to the Boston area was Marie’s family -- father Louis (Joyce) Goyetche (1846 – 1941), his wife Marie and their children, including Marie Marthe. They left Cape Auget, Nova Scotia at the turn of the century for Newton, Massachusetts. Within a few years her journey took her even further. Marie and her new husband booked passage on a ship bound for Galveston, Texas where they began a new life. To read more about Marie’s story, as told by her granddaughter Wanda Cuniff, see Cape Breton To Texas – Marie’s Story.

At A Glance


Our Family News page features births, marriages, deaths and achievements (both big & small) by Goyetche family members. Recent additions include news of the death of Henry Goyetche of Everett, MA; Francis Gail Goyetche of Massey, ON; Mary Eleanor Goyetche of Louisdale, NS; Robert (Bob) Goyetche of Montreal, QC and Ernest E. Goyetche Jr. of Ridgecrest, CA. Among the new additions to the family is Alexei Nicolas Bartkow of Bathurst, NB, a 3rd grandson for Glenda (Goyetche) Bartkow of Halifax, NS.


The Photo Gallery pages include a variety of vintage and more recent photos contributed by family members over many years. Recent additions include David & Sylvia Goyetche of Deux-Montagnes, QC with Georges Goyetche of Bayonne, France; Chris & Emma Goyetche of Cochrane, AB; Jeffrey Arthur & Emilie Goyetche of Arichat, NS; Andy, Madison & Travis Goyetche of Saugus, MA; Henry Goyetche of Everett, MA & daughter Pam (Goyetche) Fialli; Jack & Kaitlyn Goyetch of Canton, MA; Bob, Cathy & Simon Goyetche of Montreal, QC; and Emma & Sam Goyetche of Cochrane, AB.


Our Genealogy pages include information on more than 1,950 family members and 600 family groups spanning nine generations beginning in 1763. Recent additions include descendants of Thomas Alcide (Goyetche) Guyette.


The Historical pages feature a number of articles that detail the origins and history of the Basques and the Goyetche family. They include articles about notable family members such as Dominique Goyetche of Nouvelle Caledonie in the South Pacific;  the Bishop of Charlottetown, Rev. Joseph Vernon Fougere; Maria Goyetche of Petit de Grat, NS; and Marie (Goyetche) Pond of Galveston, TX. In addition, you may view Steve Goyeche’s Journals describing his travels to the Basque region of southern France in search of traces of our ancestor Jean Goyetche.
The Goyetche Family Genealogy