Gillis History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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."

Early Origins of the Gillis family

The surname Gillis was 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.

Early History of the Gillis family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gillis research. Another 65 words (5 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 and printed products wherever possible.

Gillis Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Gillis family (pre 1700)

Another 33 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gillis Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Gillis family to Ireland

Some of the Gillis family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 50 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 Gillis migration to the United States +

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, who settled in Virginia in 1649
  • Elinor Gillis, who arrived in Virginia in 1649 [1]
  • Annetje Gillis, who arrived in New Netherland(s) in 1662 [1]
  • Annette Gillis, who landed in New York in 1662
Gillis Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Gillis, who landed in Virginia in 1703 [1]
  • Mary Gillis, who arrived in New York in 1738 [1]
  • Elisbie Sutherland Gillis, who landed in New York NY in 1738 [1]
  • Catharine Gillis, who landed in New York in 1740 [1]
  • Sarah Gillis, who settled in New Jersey in 1773
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Gillis Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Swain Gillis, aged 28, who landed in North Carolina in 1812 [1]
  • Malcom Gillis, aged 50, who arrived in North Carolina in 1812 [1]
  • Archibald Gillis, aged 45, who arrived in North Carolina in 1812 [1]
  • Hector Gillis, aged 46, who arrived in North Carolina in 1812 [1]
  • John Gillis, aged 45, who landed in North Carolina in 1812 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Gillis migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Gillis Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Daniel Gillis U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [2]
  • Mr. John Gillis U.E. who settled in St. Andrews, New Brunswick c. 1784 member of the Penobscot Association and the Cape Ann Association [2]
Gillis Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Alex Gillis, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • Mr. Robert Gillis, aged 26 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Blonde" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in October 1847 [3]

Australia Gillis migration to Australia +

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

Gillis Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Edwin G Gillis, (b. 1862), aged 21, Cornish carpenter travelling aboard the ship "Dallam Tower" arriving in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 1st November 1883 [4]

New Zealand Gillis 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:

Gillis Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Sarah Gillis, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "England" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 6th February 1867 [5]
  • Robert James Gillis, aged 23, a farm labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Assaye" in 1874
  • Mr. Robert J. Gillis, British settler travelling from London, UK with 1 child aboard the ship "Assaye" arriving in Auckland, North Island, New Zealand on 26th December 1874 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Gillis (post 1700) +

  • Ann Gillis (1927-2018), American actress, from Little Rock, Arkansas; she played Becky Thatcher in David O. Selznick's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938) and provided the voice of Faline in Bambi (1942)
  • Stephen Malcolm Gillis (1940-2015), American academic, 6th President of Rice University in Houston, Texas, from 1993 until 2004
  • James Lisle Gillis (1792-1881), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania (1857-1859)
  • Bradley Frank "Brad" Gillis (b. 1957), American guitarist, best known for his work with the band Night Ranger
  • Peter B. Gillis (b. 1952), American comic book writer
  • Michael Gillis (1949-2007), American academic
  • Don Gillis (1912-1978), American composer, conductor and teacher
  • Don Gillis (1922-2008), American radio and television personality
  • Burton J. Gillis, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Michigan State House of Representatives from Bay County 1st District, 1942 [6]
  • Betty Gillis, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Kentucky, 1972 [6]
  • ... (Another 28 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. John R Gillis (b. 1915), Canadian Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Campbells Creek, Port au Port Bay, Newfoundland, Canada, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [7]
HMS Royal Oak
  • George William Gillis (1918-1939), British Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [8]


The Gillis 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: Touch not the cat bot a glove
Motto Translation: Touch not the cat without a glove


Suggested Readings for the name Gillis +

  • 1228 The Gillis Family in the South by Clayton G. Metcalf.

  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. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  3. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 30)
  4. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 19). Emigrants to Australia NSW 1860 -88 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/nsw_passenger_lists_1860_88.pdf
  5. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 23) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  7. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  8. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html


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