Recorded in many spellings including Giles, Gillis, Gills, Gyles, Jiles, Jills, Jellis, Jealous, and Jollis, this is an Anglo-Scottish surname. It is however ultimately of Ancient Greek and then French origin, and a short form of "Aegidius", meaning "a wearer of the goatskin". This was a reference to a holy man, or somebody who did good works. St. Giles (originally Aegidius) left Greece to become a hermit in France, and was only discovered when the hind from whose milk he lived, was pursued to his hermitage by a royal hunting party.It is said that his Greek name was turned into Gidie, then to Gide, and finally became Gilles, the usual French form. St. Giles is regarded as the patron of beggars and cripples; hence the London church of St. Giles Cripplegate. The name was introduced into England and Scotland by the Normans, with the names Gilo and Ghilo appearing in the Domesday Book of 1086. In the modern idiom the surname is found in almost every European country, and these forms range Agidi and Gillette to Ilchman, and Gillyns! Early examples of the name recording include John Gellis of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1527, Henry Jealous, whose daughter Jane was christened at St Benets church, Pauls Wharf, on December 22nd 1678, and Henry Jollis whose daughter Ann, was christened at St Anne's Blackfriars, on November 22nd 1689, both in the diocese of the city of London. One of the first settlers in the New World of the American Colonies was Jonathon Giles, who appears in the very first muster for Virginia Colony on February 16th 1623. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Ailward Gile. This was dated 1176, in the pipe rolls of the county of Buckinghamshire, England. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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