Recorded in several spellings, this interesting surname, is of pre 10th century Gaelic-Scottish origin. It derives from Mac giolla Easpuig, meaning 'The son of the bishop's servant. Widely recorded in Scotland, the origination is from the Roman Latin word 'eposcopus' meaning bishop or leader, although why this should be, since no other Gaelic name has any sort of similar origin, remains a mystery. In Ireland the surname is chiefly recorded in County Down, Ulster. These Gillespies who came from Scotland, were erenaghs or hereditary landlords, who managed the local church lands.In Scotland Ewan Gillaspeck witnessed a charter by Alwin, earl of Levenax, in circa 1199, whilst Guileaspos Cambell, who in 1360 invaded the county of Northumberland in England, is the forerunner of the later Gillespies of that county. They have the more unusual spelling of Gillhespy. Sir Robert Rollo Gillespie (1766 - 1814), born in County Down, had an adventurous and distinguished career as a soldier in India, where he was killed in action. A coat of arms granted to the Scottish clan has the blazon of a silver shield, charged with a chevron wavy between three red heraldic roses. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Teag Mac Giolla Epscoip, who was chief of Aeilabhra, in the barony of Iveagh, County Down. This was dated 1175, in the "Medieval Irish Records", during the reign of Rory O'Conor, known as "The High King of Ireland", 1166 - 1175. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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