Show ContentsGilray History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Gilray family were part of an ancient Scottish tribe called the Picts. The name Gilray is derived from a personal name meaning servant of judgement. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Gillebhrath.

Early Origins of the Gilray family

The surname Gilray was first found in Argyllshire (Gaelic erra Ghaidheal), the region of western Scotland corresponding roughly with the ancient Kingdom of Dál Riata, in the Strathclyde region of Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Argyll and Bute, but this family seat was later moved to Iona with the advent of St. Columba. From this original descendancy came Giolla Brighid, known also as Gillibride, or Gillivray. Gillivray's son, Somerled, the 8th and greatest Thane of Argyll, Lord of Kintyre, and founder of the 'Kingdom of the Isles' was instrumental in driving out the invading Norse (Vikings) from his Kingdom, commencing in 1140 AD. However, Somerled, still gave allegiance to the King of Vikings which continued until 1222, long after Somerled's death in 1164 AD. At this time, Alexander II of Scotland routed many of the Clans 'of the Isles', leaving them eastern Scotland in an area from Glasgow north to Inverness to the East Coast. The MacGillivrays were moved northwards to Lochabe. They became closely associated with their neighbors, the McInnises, the McMasters, and the MacEacherns. They also joined the great Pictish confederacy of Clans known as the Clan Chattan, an association of some twenty six Clans, during the time of Ferquhard, 5th Chief of the MacKintosh, and Chief of the Clan Chattan.

Early History of the Gilray family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilray research. Another 327 words (23 lines of text) covering the years 1467, 1535, 1542, 1550, 1688, 15 a, 1745 and 1822 are included under the topic Early Gilray History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gilray Spelling Variations

The appearance of the printing press and the first dictionaries in the last few hundred years did much to standardize spelling. Prior to that time scribes spelled according to sound, a practice that resulted in many spelling variations. Gilray has been spelled MacGillivray, MacGillivery, MacGillivary, MacGillivry, MacIlvray, MacIlvrae, MacIlwrach, MacIlwray, MacGivery, MacGivray, McGillivrae and many more.

Early Notables of the Gilray family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was MacGillivray of Dunmaglass. The Hon. William McGillivray, son of Donald McGillivray of Dalscoilte, near Dunmaglass, was the head of the NorthWest Company fur trading...
Another 31 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gilray Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Gilray migration to the United States +

The expense of the crossing to the North American colonies seemed small beside the difficulties of remaining in Scotland. It was a long and hard trip, but at its end lay the reward of freedom. Some Scots remained faithful to England and called themselves United Empire Loyalists, while others fought in the American War of Independence. Much of this lost Scottish heritage has been recovered in the last century through Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations. A search of immigration and passenger lists revealed many important, early immigrants to North America bearing the name of Gilray:

Gilray Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Gilray, aged 18, who immigrated to America from Bally Castle, in 1892
  • A. Gilray, aged 36, who landed in America, in 1893
  • James Gilray, aged 31, who landed in America, in 1896
Gilray Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Annie Gilray, aged 24, who immigrated to the United States from Cavan, in 1900
  • Nora Gilray, who landed in America from Castleon, in 1904
  • Edith Gilray, aged 30, who settled in America from Monkton, England, in 1911
  • Thomas Gilray, aged 16, who landed in America, in 1917
  • Thomas M Gilray, aged 17, who settled in America, in 1918
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Gilray migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Gilray Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Firenze Gilray, aged 19, who settled in Toronto, Canada, in 1911
  • Roberta Gilray, aged 25, who settled in Toronto, Canada, in 1911

Contemporary Notables of the name Gilray (post 1700) +

  • Stewart Gilray (1971-2022), Scottish video game developer, founder of Just Add Water; he died from COVID-19
  • Colin Macdonald Gilray OBE MC (1885-1974), Scottish-born New Zealand and Australian rugby union player on Facebook