Show ContentsMcGillis History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The west coast of Scotland and the rocky Hebrides islands are the ancient home of the McGillis family. The root of their name is a devotion to Christianity. The Gaelic form of the name is M'A'Lios, which is a shortened form of Mac Giolla Iosa, meaning on of the servant of Jesus. [1] Cleish Castle is a 16th-century tower house in Kinross-shire, Scotland, west of the hamlet of Cleish.

Early Origins of the McGillis family

The surname McGillis was first found in Dumfriesshire where "Mychael M'Cleish or M'CIeisch was tenant of the Brewland cum le stallage' in Dumfriesshire in 1376." [2]

"Thomas M'Cleche was a voter in parish of Qwilton (Coylton), 1514, and Michaile M'Cleys, witness in Carrik, 1514. Duncan M'Cleish was servant to Dwgall M'Dugall in Deweldik, 1588, another Duncan M'Cleiche was admitted burgess of Glasgow, 1589, and a third Duncan M'Cleishe, burgess freeman in 1627." [2]

Early History of the McGillis family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGillis research. Another 149 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1613, 1638, 1580, 1665, 1686, 1745, 1806, 1870, 1797, 1803, 1806, 1811, 1872 and 1844 are included under the topic Early McGillis History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McGillis 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. McGillis has appeared in various documents spelled MacLeish, MacCleish, MacLise, MacLish, MacGillies, MacGleish, MacGillis, MacLeash and many more.

Early Notables of the McGillis family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Robert M'Gleish, burgess of Irvine, 1686; and John M'Cleish, burgess, 1745. [2] Daniel MacLise (1806-1870), historical painter, was the son of Alexander McLeish, McLish, McClisse, or McLise, a Scottish highlander, once a private soldier in the Elgin fencibles, but at the time of the artist's birth engaged in tanning or shoemaking at Cork, where his regiment had been quartered in 1797. On 24 Dec. in that year Alexander McLish married Rebecca Buchanan, 'daughter of Mrs. Buchanan, Almshouse,' as she is described in the register of the presbyterian (now unitarian) church, Princes Street, Cork, where...
Another 208 words (15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGillis Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States McGillis migration to the United States +

Ancestors of many of the Dalriadan families who crossed the Atlantic still live along the east coast of the United States and Canada. Some Scottish settlers arrived in Canada during the American War of Independence as United Empire Loyalists, while others stayed south to fight for a new nation. The descendants of Scottish settlers in both countries began to rediscover their heritage in the 19th and 20th centuries through Clan societies and highland games. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name McGillis or a variant listed above:

McGillis Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • George and Catherine McGillis, who settled in Pennsylvania in 1773
  • Donald McGillis, who arrived in New York in 1773 [3]
  • George McGillis, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773 [3]
  • John McGillis, who arrived in New York in 1773 [3]

Canada McGillis migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McGillis Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Donald McGillis Jr., U.E. who settled in Eastern District, Charlottesburgh [South Glengarry], Ontario c. 1784 [4]
  • Lieut. John McGillis Sr., U.E. who settled in Eastern District, Charlottesburgh [South Glengarry], Ontario c. 1784 he served in Captain Talloway's Company of Highland Volunteers, became a blacksmith [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name McGillis (post 1700) +

  • Kelly Ann McGillis (b. 1957), American Golden Globe nominated actress, best known for her roles in Top Gun, The Accused, and Witness
  • John D. McGillis, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Michigan State Senate 12th District, 1936; Candidate in primary for U.S. Representative from Michigan 17th District, 1938 [5]
  • Tom McGillis, Canadian Screen Award and Gemini Award nominated producer and writer
  • Daniel Stewart "Dan" McGillis (b. 1972), retired Canadian professional NHL ice hockey defenceman who played 1996 to 2010
  • Angus McGillis (1874-1944), Canadian farmer and politician on Ontario who represented Glengarry in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1926 to 1929

  1. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. 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)
  3. 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)
  4. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  5. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 14) . Retrieved from on Facebook