Gilmer History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The saga of the name Gilmer begins with a Strathclyde-Briton family in the ancient Scottish/English Borderlands. It is a name for a devotee of the Virgin Mary. Looking back further, we find the name Gilmer was originally derived from the Gaelic Gille Moire, which means follower of Mary or servant of Mary. [1]

As an occupational name, the family was known as "the bearer of the broadsword to a Scottish chief." [2] or "follower of the chief, one who carried the chief's broadsword, from gille, a servant, and mor, large, great." [3]

Early Origins of the Gilmer family

The surname Gilmer was first found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, that today makes up the Council Areas of South, East, and North Ayrshire, where they held a family seat from very ancient times.

Early records from Cumberland show that between 1133 and 1156, Gilmor, son of Gilander founded the chapelry of Treverman (later Trierman) in the parish of Walton, Cumberland, site of Triermain castle. "The chapel was constructed of wattlework (capetta de virgin), and on its completion Gilmor appointed his kinsman Gillemor to the chaplaincy. These names, it may be mentioned, attest the strong Gaelic influence in Cumberland at that period." [4]

Gilmore meaning "Gill the Big" was son of Gillanders the great Chief who lived about 1140.

"Some time before 1144 'Gillemor filius Gilleconel' granted a half mark of silver to the church of S. Machute in Lesmahagow (Kelso, 187). Gillemure Albanach ('the Scot') and Gillemure mac Blancard witnessed the donation of the church of Torpennoth, etc. to Holyrood by Uchtred, Lord of Galloway, between 1153-65." [4]

Early History of the Gilmer family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilmer research. Another 348 words (25 lines of text) covering the years 1250, 1190, 1200, 1190, 1211, 1250, 1250, 1316, 1270, 1304, 1572, 1605, 1671, 1661, 1671, 1628, 1641, 1661 and are included under the topic Early Gilmer History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gilmer Spelling Variations

The many spelling variations in Medieval Scottish names result from the fact that scribes in that era spelled words according to sound. Translation too, was an undeveloped science, and many names were altered into complete obscurity. Over the years Gilmer has been spelled Gilmour, Gilmore, Gilmur, Gilmor, Gilmer and many more.

Early Notables of the Gilmer family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Sir John Gilmour of Craigmillar (1605-1671), Lord President of the Court of Session 1661-1671. He was the son of John Gilmour, writer to the signet and was bred to his father's profession, but on 12 Dec. 1628 he was admitted an advocate. "His professional connection lay among the royalist party...
Another 58 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gilmer Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Gilmer family to Ireland

Some of the Gilmer family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 57 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 Gilmer migration to the United States +

To escape the uncertainties and discrimination faced in Scotland, many decided to head out for North America. Once they arrived, many Scots fought with relish in the American War of Independence; some went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Many ancestors of these Scots have recovered their lost national heritage in the 20th century through Clan organizations and Scottish historical societies. Among the settlers to North America were:

Gilmer Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Thomas Gilmer, who landed in Virginia in 1720 [5]
  • George Gilmer, who landed in Virginia in 1731 [5]
Gilmer Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Frances Gilmer, aged 21, who arrived in New Castle, Del in 1804 [5]
  • John Gilmer, who landed in America in 1810 [5]
  • Samuel Gilmer, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [5]
  • John Gilmer, aged 41, who arrived in South Carolina in 1812 [5]
  • Robert Gilmer, who arrived in New York in 1826 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Gilmer 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:

Gilmer Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Ellen Gilmer, (b. 1841), aged 20, British domestic servant travelling from Bristol aboard the ship "Matoaka" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 10th February 1862 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Gilmer (post 1700) +

  • Harry Vincent Gilmer Jr. (1926-2016), American NFL football halfback and quarterback, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993
  • Dr. George Gilmer (1700-1757), Scottish-born, American Mayor of Williamsburg, Virginia (1753-1754)
  • Jeremy Francis Gilmer (1818-1883), American soldier, mapmaker, and civil engineer
  • Alexander Gilmer (1829-1906), American sawmiller
  • John Adams Gilmer (1805-1868), American Congressional Representative from North Carolina
  • William Franklin Gilmer (1901-1954), U.S. Representative from Oklahoma
  • Thomas Walker Gilmer (1802-1844), American statesman, 28th Governor of Virginia (1840-1841), 15th United States Secretary of the Navy (1844)
  • George Rockingham Gilmer (1790-1859), American statesman and politician, 34th Governor of Georgia (1829-1831) and (1837-1839)
  • William Wirt Gilmer (b. 1955), United States Navy Captain, the 22nd and 24th Naval Governor of Guam
  • Dame Elizabeth Gilmer DBE, FRHortS (1880-1960), former New Zealand social worker, educationalist and horticulturist


The Gilmer 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: Perseveranti dabitur
Motto Translation: It will be given to the persevering.


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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