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

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish-Alt, Scottish


The roots of the name Gillispie are found among the Pictish clans of ancient Scotland. The name comes 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 Gillispie is regarded as the Gaelic cognate of the Anglo-Saxon personal name Archibald, for reasons that remain obscure.

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The surname Gillispie 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.

Although Medieval Scotland lacked a basic set of spelling rules, which meant that scribes recorded names according to their sounds it was not uncommon for the names of a father and son to be recorded differently. As a result, there are many spelling variations of Scottish single names. Gillispie has been written Gillespie, Gilaspy, Gilaspie, Gilespie, Gilespy, Gillaspey, Gillaspie, Gillaspy, Gillespay, Gillespee, Gillespery, Gillespey, Gillespie, Gillespy, Gillispey and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gillispie research. Another 427 words (30 lines of text) covering the years 1175, 1228, 1229, 1617, 1675, 1613, 1648, 1648, 1776 and 1825 are included under the topic Early Gillispie History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 129 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gillispie Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Gillispie family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 109 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Thousands of Scots left their home country to travel to Ireland or Australia, or to cross the Atlantic for the North American colonies. The difficult crossing was an enormous hurdle, but those who survived found freedom and opportunity in ample measure. Some Scots even fought for their freedom in the American War of Independence. This century, their ancestors have become aware of the illustrious history of the Scots in North America and at home through Clan societies and other organizations. Passenger and immigration lists show many early and influential immigrants bearing the name Gillispie:

Gillispie Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • John Gillispie, who landed in New York, NY in 1833
  • William Gillispie, who arrived in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1844
  • Sarah Gillispie, aged 70, landed in New York, NY in 1850

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  • Charles Coulston Gillispie (1918-2015), American historian of science, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History of Science, Emeritus at Princeton University
  • Billy Clyde "BCG" Gillispie (b. 1959), American college basketball coach
  • Phillip H. Gillispie, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1984
  • P. F. Gillispie, American Republican politician, Mayor of Grafton, West Virginia, 1939-40
  • Marilyn S. Gillispie, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 2004, 2008
  • Lucille E. Gillispie, American Republican politician, Member of West Virginia State House of Delegates; Elected 1972
  • D. C. Gillispie, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1860
  • Alton A. Gillispie, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Kansas, 1944


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  1. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  2. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  3. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  4. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  5. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  6. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  7. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  8. Adam, Frank. Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 8th Edition. London: Bacon (G.W.) & Co, 1970. Print. (ISBN 10-0717945006).
  9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  10. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  11. ...

The Gillispie Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gillispie 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 30 April 2016 at 17:31.

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