Show ContentsGilly History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The western coast of Scotland and the desolate Hebrides islands are the ancient home of the Gilly family. Their name is derived from the Gaelic words "gille Iose," which means "servant of Jesus."

Early Origins of the Gilly family

The surname Gilly 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 Gilly family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilly research. Another 65 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1264, 1376, 1521, 1747, 1778, 1793, 1836 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Gilly History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gilly Spelling Variations

Spelling variations were extremely common in medieval names, since scribes from that era recorded names according to sound rather than a standard set of rules. Gilly has appeared in various documents spelled Gillies, Gillis, Gillie, Gilly, Gilles, Gillieson and many more.

Early Notables of the Gilly family

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

Ireland Migration of the Gilly family to Ireland

Some of the Gilly 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 Gilly migration to the United States +

The descendants of the Dalriadan families who made the great crossing of the Atlantic still dot communities along the east coast of the United States and Canada. In the American War of Independence, many of the settlers traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Clan societies and highland games have allowed Canadian and American families of Scottish descent to recover much of their lost heritage. Investigation of the origins of family names on the North American continent has revealed that early immigrants bearing the name Gilly or a variant listed above include:

Gilly Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Carl Gilly, who arrived in New York in 1785 [1]
Gilly Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Samuel Gilly, who landed in New York in 1835 [1]

Australia Gilly migration to Australia +

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

Gilly Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

Contemporary Notables of the name Gilly (post 1700) +

  • John P. Gilly, American politician, Socialist Labor Candidate for New York State Treasurer, 1916 [3]
  • John Gilly Jr., American Republican politician, Postmaster at Big Stone Gap, Virginia, 1870-78 [3]
  • Gordon E. Gilly, American Democratic Party politician, Postmaster at Big Stone Gap, Virginia, 1914-23 [3]
  • Elkanah Gilly, American Democratic Party politician, Postmaster at Big Stone Gap, Virginia, 1856 [3]
  • Adolfo Atilio Gilly Malvagni (1928-2023), Mexican historian and author of various books on the history of and politics of Mexico and Latin America, Professor of History and Political Science at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City
  • William Stephen Gilly (1789-1855), English divine, born on 28 Jan. 1789, son of William Gilly (d. 1837), rector of Hawkedon, Suffolk, and of Wanstead, Essex [4]
  • Jacques Laurent Gilly, French Divisional General during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars from 1789 to 1815 [5]
  • Gilly Coman (1955-2010), British actress
  • Gilly Flower (1908-2001), English actress best remembered as the elderly Miss Abitha Tibbs in the cult BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers

The Gilly 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

  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. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th August 2020). Retrieved from
  3. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 23) . Retrieved from
  4. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020
  5. Generals Who Served in the French Army during the Period 1789-1815. (Retrieved 2015, March 6) Jacques Gilly. Retrieved from on Facebook