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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016


The original Gaelic form of Gillen was O Giollain, from the word "giolla," which means "lad."

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The surname Gillen was first found in County Donegal (Irish: Dún na nGall), northwest Ireland in the province of Ulster, sometimes referred to as County Tyrconnel, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

The search for the origins of the name Gillen family name revealed numerous spelling variations. These variants can be somewhat accounted for when it is realized that before widespread literacy people only recognized their name by pronunciation; it was up to scribes to decide how it was to be formally recorded. Variations found include Gillan, Gillinan, Gillen, Gillon, Gillfinan, Gillion and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gillen research. Another 171 words (12 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gillen History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Gillen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Thousands of Irish left in their homeland in the 18th and 19th centuries to escape the religious and political discrimination they experienced primarily at the hands of the English, and in the search of a plot of land to call their own. These immigrants arrived at the eastern shores of North America, early on settling and breaking the land, and, later, building the bridges, canals, and railroads essential to the emerging nations of United States and Canada. Many others would toil for low wages in the dangerous factories of the day. Although there had been a steady migration of Irish to North America over these years, the greatest influx of Irish immigrants came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the Irish name Gillen or a variant listed above:

Gillen Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Bridget Gillen, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1812
  • Grace Gillen, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1812
  • Thomas Gillen, aged 47, landed in New York in 1812
  • Henry Gillen, who landed in New York, NY in 1815
  • John Gillen, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816


Gillen Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Mich Gillen, who landed in Canada in 1812

Gillen Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Gillen, aged 28, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Sea Park"
  • Michael Gillen, aged 19, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Fitzjames"
  • James Gillen, aged 16, a farm labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Henry Moore"
  • Philip Gillen, aged 23, a farm labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Henry Moore"

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  • George H. Gillen, American Democrat politician, Candidate for New York State Senate 25th District, 1926
  • Francis H. Gillen, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1960
  • Drew Gillen, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Texas, 1964
  • Courtland Craig Gillen (1880-1954), American Democrat politician, U.S. Representative from Indiana 5th District, 1931-33; Circuit Judge in Indiana, 1934-40
  • Charles P. Gillen (1876-1956), American Democrat politician, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, 1917-21; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New Jersey, 1932
  • Blake Gillen, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Texas, 1964
  • Albert Gillen, American politician, Representative from Massachusetts 6th District, 1898, 1900
  • Hugh H. Gillen, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Minnesota, 1924
  • J. P. Gillen, American Democrat politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Texas 8th District, 1933
  • Jerry T. Gillen, American Republican politician, Presidential Elector for Ohio, 1972

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  1. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  3. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  5. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
  6. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  7. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  8. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  9. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  10. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  11. ...

The Gillen Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gillen 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 10 December 2015 at 10:06.

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