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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: French, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Gillis family come from? What is the Scottish Gillis family crest and coat of arms? When did the Gillis family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Gillis family history?

On the western coast of Scotland and on the Hebrides islands the Gillis family was born among the ancient Dalriadan clans. Their name comes from the Gaelic words "gille Iose," which means "servant of Jesus."

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In various documents Gillis has been spelled Since medieval scribes still spelled according to sound, records from that era contain an enormous number of spelling variations. Gillies, Gillis, Gillie, Gilly, Gilles, Gillieson and many more.

First found in Lothian, where a member of the family was a witness to the charter, by King David I, to the Abbey of Holyrood. In 1160, Vhtred Gilise inherited the estates in Lothian. It is also recorded that M. filius Gilise, who was a close confidant of King Malcolm IV of Scotland, was witness to a charter signed at the Abbey of Scone in 1164.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gillis research. Another 129 words(9 lines of text) covering the years 1264, 1376, 1521, 1747, 1836, 1778 and 1793 are included under the topic Early Gillis History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 51 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gillis Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Gillis family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 87 words(6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Dalriadan families proliferated in North America. Their descendants still populate many communities in the eastern parts of both the United States and Canada. Some settled in Canada as United Empire Loyalists, in the wake of the American War of Independence. Families on both sides of the border have recovered much of their heritage in the 20th century through Clan societies and highland games. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Gillis or a variant listed above:

Gillis Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Elin Gillis settled in Virginia in 1649
  • Elinor Gillis, who arrived in Virginia in 1649
  • Annetje Gillis, who arrived in New Netherland(s) in 1662
  • Annette Gillis landed in New York in 1662

Gillis Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Wm Gillis, who landed in Virginia in 1703
  • Mary Gillis, who arrived in New York in 1738
  • Elisbie Sutherland Gillis, who landed in New York NY in 1738
  • Catharine Gillis, who landed in New York in 1740
  • Sarah Gillis settled in New Jersey in 1773


Gillis Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Swain Gillis, aged 28, landed in North Carolina in 1812
  • Malcom Gillis, aged 50, arrived in North Carolina in 1812
  • Archibald Gillis, aged 45, arrived in North Carolina in 1812
  • Hector Gillis, aged 46, arrived in North Carolina in 1812
  • John Gillis, aged 45, landed in North Carolina in 1812


Gillis Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Mr. Daniel Gillis U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784
  • Mr. John Gillis U.E. who settled in St. Andrews, New Brunswick c. 1784 he was part of the Penobscot Association and the Cape Ann Association

Gillis Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Alex Gillis, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1801

Gillis Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Robert James Gillis, aged 23, a farm labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Assaye" in 1874

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  • Ann Gillis (b. 1927), American actress, known for her roles in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and In Society (1944)
  • Bradley Frank "Brad" Gillis (b. 1957), American guitarist, best known for his work with the band Night Ranger
  • Don Gillis (1922-2008), American radio and television personality
  • Don Gillis (1912-1978), American composer, conductor and teacher
  • James Lisle Gillis (1792-1881), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania (1857-1859)
  • Michael Gillis (1949-2007), American academic
  • Peter B. Gillis (b. 1952), American comic book writer
  • S Malcom Gillis (b. 1941), American academic, 6th President of Rice University in Houston, Texas from 1993 until 2004
  • Alan Gillis (b. 1936), Irish Fine Gael politician and President of the Irish Farmers' Association from 19901994
  • Clarence "Clarie" Gillis (1895-1960), Canadian social democratic politician and trade unionist from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, best known for securing the funding for the Canso Causeway between Nova Scotia's mainland and Cape Breton Island

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  • The Gillis Family in the South by Clayton G. Metcalf.
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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: Touch not the cat bot a glove
Motto Translation: Touch not the cat without a glove

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  1. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  2. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  3. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  4. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  5. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  6. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  8. 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).
  9. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  10. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  11. ...

The Gillis Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gillis 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 14 April 2015 at 11:12.

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