Show ContentsGilgun History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient Viking-Scottish name Gilgun is derived from Gunni, a descendant of Einar and of the great peace Kings of Uppsale in Sweden, progenitor of this great Clan. Gunni was the son of Gillanders, one of the six northern Earls who besieged King Malcolm IV of Scotland at Perth in 1160. The Gunns, the Sinclairs, the Mackays and the Gordons ruled the far northern reaches of Scotland. The Gunns' territory centered in Caithness and Sutherland.

Early Origins of the Gilgun family

The surname Gilgun was first found in the Orkneys. But perhaps to North Americans the most interesting aspect of Gunn history is the discovery of a Coat of Arms, which is undoubtedly of the Gunn Clan, in Westford, Massachusetts. Chiseled into a rock face, it has been reliably dated back to 1395. This was almost one hundred years before Columbus discovered America. Archaeologists first assumed this marking was the work of an early Indian tribe, but closer examination and the clearance of the scrub, revealed a knight in full armor, a huge sword and a shield on which the Gunn Coat of Arms was displayed.

How did a Knight of the Gunn Clan manage to be buried in Massachusetts years before Columbus discovered America? For the answer, historians went back to the Orkneys. They knew that the Jarls of Orkney, many centuries before had recorded that they wintered in their Viking missions in a land running with fire from the rocks (Nova Scotia, also on the east coast of North America, has bituminous rocks, which can catch fire and melt down the ravines to the sea). They also knew that the Gunns were related to and rode and sailed with the Jarls of Orkney. The pieces of the puzzle fit together fine, but few historians had realized to that point that the Viking discoveries of the New World had penetrated as far south as Massachusetts. This carving is one of the few real evidences of their pioneering expeditions. It is also the earliest record of a Gunn Clan Coat of Arms.

Early History of the Gilgun family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilgun research. Another 152 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1231, 1438, 1732, 1740, 1753 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Gilgun History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gilgun Spelling Variations

The spellings of Scottish names dating from the medieval era often bear little resemblance to those seen today. They vary enormously because scribes in that time spelled according to their ears. Some spelling variations of the name Gilgun include Gunn, Gun, Guinne (Gaelic) and others.

Early Notables of the Gilgun family

Another 50 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gilgun Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Gilgun family to Ireland

Some of the Gilgun family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 66 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Gilgun migration to the United States +

The farms of Scottish settlers soon dotted the east coast of the colonies that would become the nations of the United States and Canada. Many of those migrants and their children went on to play important roles in the founding the great nations of North America. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the Scottish name Gilgun or a variant listed above, including:

Gilgun Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Miles Gilgun, aged 44, arrived in New York in 1895 aboard the ship "Lucania" from Liverpool, England 1
  • John Gilgun, aged 21, arrived in New York City in 1895 aboard the ship "Umbria" from Liverpool, England 1
  • Anatele Gilgun, aged 24, arrived in New York in 1895 aboard the ship "Amsterdam" from Rotterdam via Boulogne 1
Gilgun Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • James Gilgun, aged 25, originally from Chorley, arrived in New York in 1901 aboard the ship "Lucania" from Liverpool, England 1

Contemporary Notables of the name Gilgun (post 1700) +

  • John Gilgun (b. 1935), American writer, best known for his 1989 novel Music I Never Dreamed Of
  • Joseph William "Joe" Gilgun (b. 1984), English actor, known for his roles in Emmerdale, This Is England (2006-15) and Misfits

The Gilgun Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Aut pax, aut bellum
Motto Translation: Either peace or war

  1. Ellis Island Search retrieved 15th November 2022. Retrieved from on Facebook