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

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish-Alt, Scottish

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

The age-old Pictish-Scottish family name Gillespie is derived from the Gaelic name Gilleasbuig, which means the bishop's servant. The Gaelic word easbuig is borrowed from the Latin word episcopus, which means bishop. Patronymic names often substituted the name of a saint or other revered religious figure in place of a devout bearer's actual father. The name Gillespie is regarded as the Gaelic cognate of the Anglo-Saxon personal name Archibald, for reasons that remain obscure.

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In the Middle ages, spelling and translation were not yet regulated by any general rules. spelling variations in names were common even among members of one family unit. Gillespie has appeared Gillespie, Gilaspy, Gilaspie, Gilespie, Gilespy, Gillaspey, Gillaspie, Gillaspy, Gillespay, Gillespee, Gillespery, Gillespey, Gillespie, Gillespy, Gillispey and many more.

First found in Aberdeenshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Obar Dheathain), a historic county, and present day Council Area of Aberdeen, located in the Grampian region of northeastern Scotland. For the origin of the name, Sir Thomas Innes tells us that the name is derived from Sliochd Gillies a Chieftain of the MacPhersons in Invershie. He places this branch of the MacPhersons, as descendants of Elias MacPherson, brother of Kenneth MacPherson, ancestor of the MacPherson Clan. However, Gillies was recorded as living approximately 1250-1300, and this record is predated by researches by two other historians who place a Ewan filius Gillespie as witnessing a Charter by Alwoin, Earl of Lennox, granted in 1175. The connection between this earlier record and the MacPherson line is vague and uncertain but most historians agree that the Gillespie are of the Clan Chattan.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gillespie research. Another 427 words(30 lines of text) covering the years 1175, 1228, 1229, 1617, 1675, 1613, 1648, 1648, 1776 and 1825 are included under the topic Early Gillespie History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 129 words(9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gillespie Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Gillespie family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 109 words(8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Faced by this persecution and the generally unstable political climate of those days, many Scots chose to leave their homeland for Ireland, Australia, and North America in search of greater opportunity and freedom. The colonies across the Atlantic were the most popular choice, but a passage there was neither cheap nor easily suffered. Passengers arrived sick and poor, but those who made it intact often found land and more tolerant societies in which to live. These brave settlers formed the backbone of the burgeoning nations of Canada and the United States. It is only this century that the ancestors of these families have begun to recover their collective identity through the patriotic highland games and Clan societies that have sprung up throughout North America. Research into early immigration and passenger lists revealed many immigrants bearing the name Gillespie:

Gillespie Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Neil Gillespie with his wife Mary arrived in New York State in 1739 with his two sons, Gilbert and Angus
  • Neil Gillespie, who arrived in New York in 1739
  • Andrew Gillespie, who landed in New England in 1759
  • Colin Gillespie, who landed in New York in 1798

Gillespie Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Alex Gillespie, who arrived in America in 1804
  • Margt Gillespie, who landed in America in 1804
  • Hugh Gillespie, who landed in America in 1804
  • Jas Gillespie, who landed in America in 1805
  • Francis Gillespie, who arrived in America in 1806


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  • Paul Gillespie (1920-1970), Major League Baseball catcher
  • John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (1917-1993), American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and composer
  • Aaron Gillespie (b. 1983), American rock singer & drummer
  • Major Archibald H. Gillespie (1810-1873), officer in the United States Marine Corps
  • Brock Gillespie (b. 1983), American professional basketball player
  • Albert Arnold Gillespie (1899-1978), American cinema special effects artist with 13 Oscar nominations
  • Brigadier-General Alexander Garfield Gillespie (1881-1956), American Chief of Industrial Service, Ordnance Department (1945-1946)
  • Gary Gillespie (b. 1960), Scottish footballer
  • Bobby Gillespie (b. 1964), Scottish rock and roll musician
  • Alastair William Gillespie PC, OC (b. 1922), Canadian former politician

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  • Ancestry of Elizabeth Barrett Gillespie (Mrs. William Sperry Beincke) by Paul W. Prindle.
  • History and Descendants of James Gillespie, 1760-1990 by LaRoux K. Gillespie.
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Gillespie Clan Badge
Gillespie Clan Badge

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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...

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Septs of the Distinguished Name Gillespie
Clasby, Clashby, Clusby, Galespie, Galespy, Gallespie, Gallespy, Gelaspy, Gilaspey, Gilaspie, Gilaspy, Gilespay, Gilespee, Gilespery, Gilespey, Gilespie, Gilespy, Gilispey, Gilispie, Gillaspey, Gillaspie, Gillaspy, Gillespay, Gillespee, Gillespery, Gillespey, Gillespie, Gillespy, Gillispey, Gillispie, Gylaspie, Gylaspy, Gylespie, Gylespy, Kilespie, Killespie, Kylespie, Kyllespie and more.

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  1. 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).
  2. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  3. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  4. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  5. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  6. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  7. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  8. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  9. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  10. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  11. ...

The Gillespie Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gillespie 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 1 October 2014 at 00:36.

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