Gillespie Family History
The ancient origin of the name Gillespie was found in the irishsurnames.com archives. The name Gillespie is derived from the Gaelic name 'Mac Giolla Easpuig' which translates as 'devotee of the bishop'. Almost all the Gillespies to be found in the Annals, Fiants, and diocesan histories and other records are Ulstermen. Mac Giolla Easpuig was Chief of Aeilabhra up to the end of the twelfth century, later the family appearing as erenaghs of Kilraine. The leader of the Scots that slayed Shane O'Neill in 1567 was William Gillespie. The first recorded person of the name in Scotland was Ewan filius Gillaspeck who witnessed a charter by Alwin, Earl of Levenax, in the year 1175. The Fiants and Petty's Census indicate that the name was chiefly found in north Ulster in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, while in modern times the birth indexes show that the name is still numerous in the same Northern counties. Sir Robert Rollo Gillespie, 1766-1814, born in County Down, had a distinguished career as a soldier in India, where he was killed in action. Occasional variants of the name include Clusby and Glashby in County Louth, Clasby in County Galway and Bishop in County Donegal.The Gillespie family crest (or coat of arms) came into existence many centuries ago. The process of creating these coats of arms began as early as the eleventh century although a form of Proto-Heraldry may have existed in some countries prior to this, including Ireland. The new more formalized art of Heraldry made it possible for families and even individual family members to have their very own family crest, coat of arms, including Gillespie descendants.