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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the Scottish Gilfillan family come from? What is the Scottish Gilfillan family crest and coat of arms? When did the Gilfillan family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Gilfillan family history?

The age-old Pictish-Scottish family name Gilfillan is derived from the Gaelic name Gille Fhaolain, which means servant of St. Fillan. Patronymic names often substituted the name of a saint or other revered religious figure in place of a devout bearer's actual father.


In medieval Scotland, names were more often spelled according to sound than any regular set of rules. An enormous number of spelling variations were the result. Over the years, the name Gilfillan has been spelled Gilfillan, Gilfilland, Gilfillen, Gilfillian, Gilfillin, Gilfillon, Gillfillan, Gillfilland, Gillfillen, Gillfillian and many more.

First found in Fife, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilfillan research. Another 152 words(11 lines of text) covering the years 1215, 1275, 1296, 1477, and 1516 are included under the topic Early Gilfillan History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Gilfillan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


In such difficult times, Ireland, Australia, and North America looked like better homes for many Scots. The trips were expensive and grueling, but also rewarding, as the colonies were havens for those unwelcome in the old country. That legacy did not die easily, though, and many were forced to fight for their freedom in the American War of Independence. The Scottish legacy has resurface in more recent times, though, through Clan societies, highland games, and other organizations. Immigration and passenger lists have shown many early immigrants bearing the old Scottish name of Gilfillan:

Gilfillan Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • John Gilfillan who settled in New Jersey in 1685
  • John Gilfillan, who landed in New Jersey in 1685

Gilfillan Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Robert Gilfillan, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1839


  • Calvin Willard Gilfillan (1832-1901), American politician, Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania
  • James Gilfillan (1836-1929), 13th Treasurer of the United States
  • John Bachop "J.B." Gilfillan (1835-1924), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota
  • Reverend Joseph Alexander Gilfillan (1838-1913), Irish-born, American missionary in northern Minnesota from 1873 until 1908
  • Merrill D. Gilfillan (b. 1945), American poet
  • Reverend George Gilfillan (1813-1878), Scottish poet and critic
  • Robert Gilfillan (1798-1850), Scottish songwriter and poet


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  1. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  2. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  3. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  4. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  5. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  6. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  7. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  8. Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3).
  9. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  10. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Gilfillan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gilfillan Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 30 May 2014 at 18:00.

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