Recorded as Gillie, Gillies, Gillis, and Gillison, this very interesting and ancient surname is Scottish. It derives from the pre 9th century "Mac gill Iosa", which translates as "The son of the servant of Jesus", and describes an early follower or devotee, and is probably a reference to one of the earliest converts to the Christian church. The given name is first recorded in Scotland in 1128, when one Gillise was a witness to a charter by King David 1st of Scotland to the abbey of Holyrood, whilst in 1264 it is recorded that Gylis filius Angus, known as Angus the sutor or shoemaker, did homage to the prior and convent of St.Andrews at Dull. The surname it is said, is most frequently recorded in the Hebrides. The patronymic forms of the name include Gillison, but are more usual are McAleese, McAleece, McAlish, McLeish, McLeos, McLese and McLise, all of whom derive from the Malise, a short form of the original Mac gill Iosa. Examples of the name recording include John Gyliss, in the Rent Book of the city of Glasgow in 1521, Robert Gillies, who emigrated to Boston, in the American colonies, in August 1766, embarking from Greenock, on the ship "Lovely Betsy", William Gillie or Gillice, who in 1799 was recorded as being a farmer in Tindhassie, whilst Lord Gillies (1760 - 1842), was appointed Judge of the Exchequer in 1837, in the first year of the reign of Queen Victoria. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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