MacGillwory History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the MacGillwory family lived among the Strathclyde-Briton people in the Scottish/English Borderlands. It is a name for a devotee of the Virgin Mary. Looking back further, we find the name MacGillwory 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 MacGillwory family

The surname MacGillwory 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 MacGillwory family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacGillwory 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 MacGillwory History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacGillwory Spelling Variations

Prior to the first dictionaries, scribes spelled words according to sound. This, and the fact that Scottish names were repeatedly translated from Gaelic to English and back, contributed to the enormous number of spelling variations in Scottish names. MacGillwory has been spelled Gilmour, Gilmore, Gilmur, Gilmor, Gilmer, Gilmoore and many more.

Early Notables of the MacGillwory 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 MacGillwory Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the MacGillwory family to Ireland

Some of the MacGillwory 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.

Migration of the MacGillwory family

In such difficult times, the difficulties of raising the money to cross the Atlantic to North America did not seem so large compared to the problems of keeping a family together in Scotland. It was a journey well worth the cost, since it was rewarded with land and freedom the Scots could not find at home. The American War of Independence solidified that freedom, and many of those settlers went on to play important parts in the forging of a great nation. Among them: James, John, Robert, Thomas, and William Gilmer settled in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860; Alexander, Andrew, Archibald, David, James, John, Patrick, Samuel and William Gilmore arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.



The MacGillwory 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. ^ Lower, 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)


Houseofnames.com on Facebook