Gillespie History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The age-old Pictish-Scottish family 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.

Early Origins of the Gillespie family

The surname Gillespie was 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.

Early History of the Gillespie family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gillespie research. Another 214 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1175, 1228, 1229, 1617, 1675, 1613, 1648, 1648, 1776, 1825 and are included under the topic Early Gillespie History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gillespie Spelling Variations

In the Middle ages, spelling and translation were not yet regulated by any general rules. spelling variations in names were common even among members of one family unit. Gillespie has appeared Gillespie, Gilaspy, Gilaspie, Gilespie, Gilespy, Gillaspey, Gillaspie, Gillaspy, Gillespay, Gillespee, Gillespery, Gillespey, Gillespie, Gillespy, Gillispey and many more.

Early Notables of the Gillespie family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was Patrick Gillespie (1617-1675), a Scottish minister, strong Covenanter, and Principal of Glasgow University by the support of Oliver Cromwell; George Gillespie (1613-1648), Scottish clergyman who in 1648 became minister...
Another 36 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gillespie Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Gillespie family to Ireland

Some of the Gillespie family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 61 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Gillespie migration to the United States +

Faced by this persecution and the generally unstable political climate of those days, many Scots chose to leave their homeland for Ireland, Australia, and North America in search of greater opportunity and freedom. The colonies across the Atlantic were the most popular choice, but a passage there was neither cheap nor easily suffered. Passengers arrived sick and poor, but those who made it intact often found land and more tolerant societies in which to live. These brave settlers formed the backbone of the burgeoning nations of Canada and the United States. It is only this century that the ancestors of these families have begun to recover their collective identity through the patriotic highland games and Clan societies that have sprung up throughout North America. Research into early immigration and passenger lists revealed many immigrants bearing the name Gillespie:

Gillespie Settlers in 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 [1]
  • Andrew Gillespie, who landed in New England in 1759 [1]
  • Colin Gillespie, who landed in New York in 1798 [1]
Gillespie Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Alex Gillespie, who arrived in America in 1804 [1]
  • Margaret Gillespie, who landed in America in 1804 [1]
  • Hugh Gillespie, who landed in America in 1804 [1]
  • James Gillespie, who landed in America in 1805 [1]
  • Francis Gillespie, who arrived in America in 1806 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Gillespie migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Gillespie Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Allice Gillespie, aged 25, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Dorcas Savage" from Belfast, Ireland
  • John Gillespie, aged 24, a yeoman, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Elizabeth" from Galway, Ireland
  • Eliza Gillespie, aged 20, a sister, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Elizabeth" from Galway, Ireland
  • Sarah Mary Gillespie, aged 20, a sister, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Elizabeth" from Galway, Ireland
  • Sarah Gillespie, aged 21, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Madawaska" in 1833
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Gillespie migration to Australia +

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

Gillespie Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Daniel Gillespie, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "America" on April 4, 1829, settling in New South Wales, Australia [2]
  • Mr. John Gillespie, British Convict who was convicted in Perth, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Asia" on 5th November 1835, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land)1836 [3]
  • John Gillespie, aged 27, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Sumner"

New Zealand Gillespie 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:

Gillespie Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Andrew Gillespie, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • C H Gillespie, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1842 aboard the ship Bernian
  • Andrew Haggarty Gillespie, aged 36, a joiner, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Birman" in 1842
  • Christine Gillespie, aged 36, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Birman" in 1842
  • Charles Haggarty Gillespie, aged 9, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Birman" in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Gillespie (post 1700) +

  • Major Archibald H. Gillespie (1810-1873), American officer in the United States Marine Corps
  • Michael James "Mike" Gillespie (1940-2020), American college head coach at UC Irvine and head coach at USC from 1987 to 2006
  • James Lamont "Haven" Gillespie (1888-1975), American Tin Pan Alley composer and lyricist, best known as writer of "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town"
  • Gordie Gillespie (1926-2015), American baseball, football and basketball coach, inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009
  • Brigadier-General Alexander Garfield Gillespie (1881-1956), American Chief of Industrial Service, Ordnance Department (1945-1946) [4]
  • Albert Arnold Gillespie (1899-1978), American cinema special effects artist with 13 Oscar nominations
  • Brock Gillespie (b. 1983), American professional basketball player
  • Aaron Gillespie (b. 1983), American rock singer & drummer
  • Paul Gillespie (1920-1970), Major League Baseball catcher
  • John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (1917-1993), American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and composer
  • ... (Another 15 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Robert Walls Gillespie, British Senior 4th Engineer from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [5]
Halifax Explosion
  • Miss Isabella  Gillespie (1893-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [6]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Charles Gillespie, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died in the sinking [7]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. William Henry Gillespie (d. 1912), aged 34, Irish Second Class passenger from Abbeyleix, Laois who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [8]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. David W. Gillespie, American Seaman First Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [9]


Suggested Readings for the name Gillespie +

  • 636 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.

  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 26) America voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1829 with 176 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/america/1829
  3. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1835
  4. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2012, March 5) Alexander Gillespie. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Gillespie/Alexander_Garfield/USA.html
  5. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  6. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  7. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  8. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  9. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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