This unusual surname is of medieval Scottish origin, and is a variant form of the name Gilfillan, itself an Anglicized version of the Old Gaelic "Mac GilleFhaolain", "son of the servant of (St.) Fillan", from "Mac", son of, "gille", servant, devotee, follower, and the saint's name, Fillan, representing a diminutive of "faol", wolf. St. Fillan was an early 8th Century abbot of Irish extraction who became a monk in County Wexford, and a solitary at Pittenweem (Fife), and later retired to Glendochart (Perthshire). His ult was sufficiently important for Robert the Bruce to take his arm relic to the battle of Bannockburn and to attribute his victory to the saint's intercession. The personal name appears frequently in Scots records in the 12th and 13th Centuries: one Gille falyn held land in Lauderdale circa 1214; Gilfelan MacGuostuf witnessed a charter by Maldoune, third earl of Levenox in 1217; and in 1250, a Gillifelan is recorded as dean of Kintyre. Early examples of the surname include: Cane McGillolane, who witnessed the foundation charter of Sweetheart Abbey in 1359, and Ingeram M'Gillelan, who held lands in Forfarshire in 1372. Ewin Gilfillan, noted in the Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland in 1516, shows the omission of the prefix "Mac". In the modern idiom the surname is variously spelt: Gilfillan, Gilphillan, Kilfillan, Gilfilland, Gilliland and Gelland. On September 11th 1743, Helen Gilliland and George Home were married in Edinburgh, Midlothian. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert McGillolane, Captain of Clenconnan in Galloway, which was dated circa 1330, in the "Register of the Great Seal of Scotland", during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 - 1371. 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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