Jesse Gilbert was born on December 30, 1797, to Jesse and Lydia B. Gilbert of Hamden, Connecticut. The oldest surviving son, Jesse had numerous siblings, including a brother, Griswold I. Gilbert, who was a member of the Connecticut State Senate in 1853. The Gilberts were a prominent family in New Haven; his great-great-grandfather was Matthew Gilbert, the first Deputy Governor of New Haven Colony, and his grandfather, Captain John Gilbert, was in command of New Haven’s up-town militia during the Revolutionary War. Gilbert married Laura Heaton on November 28, 1820. They had five children: Forbes Gilbert (b. 1821), Lydia, Street E., Howard D., and Jesse Burton. Gilbert was an attorney by profession, based out of New Haven, Connecticut, and had clients from throughout New England, Pennsylvania, and New York. Gilbert died on May 8, 1851.