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An excerpt from 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.


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.


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 and printed products wherever possible.


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 Gillispie Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


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 and printed products wherever possible.


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

  • 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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    Other References

    1. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
    2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
    3. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
    4. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
    5. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    6. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    7. 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).
    8. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
    9. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
    10. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
    11. ...

    The Gillispie Family Crest was acquired from the 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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