This interesting surname is a patronymic from the old Scots Gaelic personal name Gilchrist, a compound of the elements "Gilla" meaning servant plus "Criost" christ; hence "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". The name "Gillecrist" (without surname) appears in the Pipe Rolls of Cumberland (1202). The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 14th Century (see below). In the modern idiom, the surname is found with variant spellings Gilkison, Gilkes, Gilks, etc.. Early recordings of the surname from the London church registers include; Thomas Gilks, who married Anne Hopkins on February 19th 1651, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney; Thomas, son of Thomas and Anne Gilks, who was christened on March 4th 1652 at St. Ann, Blackfriars; and the christening of Margaret, daughter of William and Barbarie Gilks, took place on January 30th 1668 at St. Dunstan's, Stepney. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Gilcristson, which was dated 1332, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Cumberland", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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