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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? 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 ancestors of the first family to use the name Gillespie lived among the Pictish people of ancient Scotland. The 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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The arts of spelling and translation were yet in their infancies when surnames began, so there are an enormous number of spelling variations of the names in early Scottish records. This is a particular problem with Scottish names because of the numerous times a name might have been loosely translated to English from Gaelic and back. Gillespie has been spelled 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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This oppression forced many Scots to leave their homelands. Most of these chose North America as their destination. Although the journey left many sick and poor, these immigrants were welcomed the hardy with great opportunity. Many of these settlers stood up for their newfound freedom in the American War of Independence. More recently, Scots abroad have recovered much of their collective heritage through highland games and other patriotic functions and groups. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has located various settlers 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. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  3. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  4. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  5. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  6. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  7. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  8. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  9. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  10. 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.
  11. ...


This page was last modified on 17 July 2014 at 06:02.

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