This name, with variant spellings Gilcriest, Gillcrist and Gilcryst, derives from the Old Scottish Gaelic personal name "Gilla-crist", a compound of the elements, "gilla" meaning "a servant" plus "crist" and thus the meaning "servant of Christ". This popular personal name was borne by the sculptor of St. Martin's cross in Iona and an inscription in Irish reads "a prayer for Gilchrist who made this cross". One, Gillecrist mac (son of) Cormaic, grant witness, was recorded in "the Book of Deer" prior to 1132, Gilcrist, earl of Mar, circa 1179 - 1204 built a priory for the Culdees (an order of monks) of Mongmust circa 1200. The surname was first recorded in Scotland towards the end of the 13th Century, (see below). Several Scottish namebearers settled in north east Ulster, however, an indigenous Irish sept exists in county Longford and north Connacht. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Kilschyn Gilcrist of Pertshire, Scotland, (rendered homage), which was dated 1290, in the "Calendar of documents relating to Scotland", during the reign of King John "Balliol", known as "The King of Scotland", 1292 - 1296. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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