Gilfillan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Gilfillan family

The surname Gilfillan 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 Gilfillan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilfillan 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 Gilfillan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gilfillan Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Gilfillan 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 Gilfillan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Gilfillan migration to the United States +

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 United States in the 17th Century
  • John Gilfillan who settled in New Jersey in 1685
  • John Gilfillan, who landed in New Jersey in 1685 [2]
Gilfillan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert Gilfillan, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1839 [2]

Australia Gilfillan migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Gilfillan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Gilfillan, aged 19, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Lismoyne"

New Zealand Gilfillan migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Gilfillan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Alexander Gilfillan, aged 48, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Mandarin" in 1841
  • Mary Gilfillan, aged 34, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Mandarin" in 1841
  • Georgia Gilfillan, aged 12, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Mandarin" in 1841
  • Elizabeth Gilfillan, aged 11, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Mandarin" in 1841
  • Mary Gilfillan, aged 10, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Mandarin" in 1841
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Gilfillan (post 1700) +

  • Merrill D. Gilfillan (b. 1945), American poet
  • Reverend Joseph Alexander Gilfillan (1838-1913), Irish-born, American missionary in northern Minnesota from 1873 until 1908
  • John Bachop "J.B." Gilfillan (1835-1924), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota
  • James Gilfillan (1836-1929), 13th Treasurer of the United States
  • Calvin Willard Gilfillan (1832-1901), American politician, Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania
  • Samuel Gilfillan (1762-1826), Scottish secession minister, son of a merchant in the village of Bucklyvie, Stirlingshire, born there on 24 Nov. 1762, the youngest of a family of fifteen children
  • Robert Gilfillan (1798-1850), Scottish poet, born 7 July 1798 at Dunfermline, the son of a master weaver
  • James Gilfillan (1797-1874), Scottish divine, son of the Rev. Samuel Gilfillan [q. v.], a rather notable minister of the secession body, and brother of the Rev. George Gilfillan [q. v.], was born at Comrie, Perthshire, on 11 May 1797
  • Reverend George Gilfillan (1813-1878), Scottish poet and critic, born on 30 Jan. 1813, in the village of Comrie, Perthshire, where his father, the Rev. Samuel Gilfillan (1762–1826) [q. v.], was minister of the secession congregation [3]
  • Robert Gilfillan (1798-1850), Scottish songwriter and poet


  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. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  3. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020


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