Gilfilan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Gilfilan family were part of an ancient Scottish tribe called the Picts. The name Gilfilan 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.

Early Origins of the Gilfilan family

The surname Gilfilan was first found in Fife, where "several individuals bearing this name appear in Scots records in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In the last quarter of the twelfth century Gillefali Kelde (i.e. a Culdee) witnessed a grant by Turpin, bishop of Brechin, of a toft of Strukatherach to the Abbey of Arnbroath. Gillefalyn held land in Lauderdale, c. 1213-1214. Gilfelan Mac Guostuf witnessed a charter by Maldoune, 3d earl of Levenax, 1217 and about 1213-1214 Gilfalyn possessed part of Vlfkelystun, now Oxton, in Lauderdale." [1]

Early History of the Gilfilan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilfilan research. Another 211 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1246, 1250, 1275, 1296, 1329, 1471, 1477, 1516, 1559, 1613, 1798, 1850, 1798, 1811, 1818, 1797, 1874 and 1797 are included under the topic Early Gilfilan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gilfilan Spelling Variations

The appearance of the printing press and the first dictionaries in the last few hundred years did much to standardize spelling. Prior to that time scribes spelled according to sound, a practice that resulted in many spelling variations. Gilfilan has been spelled Gilfillan, Gilfilland, Gilfillen, Gilfillian, Gilfillin, Gilfillon, Gillfillan, Gillfilland, Gillfillen, Gillfillian and many more.

Early Notables of the Gilfilan family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was Robert Gilfillan (1798-1850), Scotttish poet, born 7 July 1798 at Dunfermline and was the son of a master weaver. " In 1811, on the removal of the family to Leith, Gilfillan was there apprenticed to a cooper, whom he served, with a somewhat languid interest, for seven years. For three years after 1818 he...
Another 62 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gilfilan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Gilfilan family

The expense of the crossing to the North American colonies seemed small beside the difficulties of remaining in Scotland. It was a long and hard trip, but at its end lay the reward of freedom. Some Scots remained faithful to England and called themselves United Empire Loyalists, while others fought in the American War of Independence. Much of this lost Scottish heritage has been recovered in the last century through Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations. A search of immigration and passenger lists revealed many important, early immigrants to North America bearing the name of Gilfilan: John Gilfillan who settled in New Jersey in 1685; another John arrived in Philadelphia in 1832; others in 1856, 1863, 1866, and 1868; Robert and Thomas also arrived in the same port..



  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)


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