Show ContentsGills History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished Gills family, which is intricately woven into the intricate tapestry of Scottish history, probably finds its origin with the proud Norman people.

However, Gille or Gillebert (fl. 1105-1145), Bishop of Limerick, "termed by Keating Giolla Easbog, was consecrated in Ireland, but it is uncertain whether he was an Irishman or a Dane, Limerick being then a Danish city. " [1]

How this very early entry fits into the history of the family is uncertain, but we include in as a point of reference.

Early Origins of the Gills family

The surname Gills was first found in Yorkshire, where the Domesday Book of 1086 listed Ghille, Ghile, Ghil. [2] Gamel filius Gille was a Knights Templar in Yorkshire in 1185. Johannes films Gille was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Yorkshire in 1297. [3]

Some of the family were also found in Lincolnshire where Henricus filius Gllli, Gille was listed in the Pipe Rolls of 1200. Two years later, Ralph, Robert Gille was listed in the Assize Rolls of Lincolnshire in 1202.

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed: Richard filius Gille, Cambridgeshire; Gille Hulle, Cambridgeshire; and Roger Gille, Oxfordshire. [4]

Henry Gille moved the family name to Cumberland in 1200 and the family gave its name to the village of Gilsland, a watering-place, in the parish of Lanercost-Abbey, Eskdale ward, E. division of Cumberland. [5]

And it is this branch of the family that we will now focus. "A tradition held by members of the Aberdeen [Scotland] family of this name is that they came originally from Cumberland, where at an early period they owned lands, among others the barony of Gillsland. Gilsland, one of three original baronies in Cumberland, is spelled Gillesland in 1240, and may have been the possession of one Gilli or Gille. Gilli is an old West Scandinavian personal name, borrowed at an earlier period directly from OG. gilla, 'a servant,' or from a pet form of one of the numerous Gaelic names in Gilla-, as Gillebride, Gillechrist, etc. The abbreviated form was not used by Gaels as a proper name, but such usage originated among the Vikings in the West. The surname is of great antiquity on both sides of the Border. Gille filius Boed was one of the witnesses to Earl David's Inquisitio concerning the lands of the church of Glasgow, a. 1124. This Gille son of Boed or Boet stands on a pedestal unique, perhaps in Scottish history, as the last Scottish chieftain to hold sway in England against the power of the Norman." [6]

Indeed the lion's share of the family claim Scotland as their homeland.

Early History of the Gills family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gills research. Another 202 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1241, 1296, 1328, 1330, 1333, 1366, 1369, 1389, 1460, 1658, 1659, 1690, 1565, 1635, 1564, 1583, 1586, 1589, 1597, 1642, 1597, 1697, 1771 and are included under the topic Early Gills History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gills Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Gill, Gille, Gills, Gilles, Gyll, Gylls and others.

Early Notables of the Gills family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family at this time was Alexander Gill the Elder (1565-1635), High-Master of St. Paul's School, born in Lincolnshire 7 Feb. 1564, was admitted scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in September 1583, and proceeded B.A. 1586...
Another 39 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gills Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gills Ranking

In the United States, the name Gills is the 14,061st most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [7]

Ireland Migration of the Gills family to Ireland

Some of the Gills 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 Gills migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Gills Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Henry Gills, who arrived in Maryland in 1673 [8]
Gills Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Gills, who arrived in Virginia in 1719 [8]
  • Alexander Gills, who arrived in America in 1783 [8]
Gills Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • J G Gills, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1855 [8]
  • Christian Gills, who landed in Arkansas in 1893 [8]

Australia Gills migration to Australia +

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

Gills Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • June Gills, aged 19, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Agincourt"

New Zealand Gills 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:

Gills Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Gills, aged 34, a miner, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Eastminster" in 1880
  • Annabel Gills, aged 24, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Eastminster" in 1880
  • Jeanie Gills, aged 2, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Eastminster" in 1880
  • Charles Gills, aged 1, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Eastminster" in 1880

Contemporary Notables of the name Gills (post 1700) +

  • Lee Anne Gills, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate in primary for Montana State House of Representatives 20th District, 2010 [9]

The Gills 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: In te Domine spes nostra
Motto Translation: Our hope is in thee, O Lord

  1. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. 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)
  7. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  8. 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)
  9. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 23) . Retrieved from on Facebook