The Scottish surname Gillis, also found in Ireland, is a reduced form of the Gaelic name Mac Gille Iosa meaning “son of the servant of Jesus.” The name Gillis originated in the extreme western region of Scotland in the Hebrides Islands where they were one of the Dalriadan clans. The first written reference to the name is in the 12th Century when a member of the Gillis family was a witness to the charter by King David I of Scotland, to the Abbey of Holyrood. In 1160 Vhtred Gilise inherited estates in Lothian. The name is first recorded in the New World in 1649 when Elin Gillis settled in Virginia. Today there are approximately 18,000 bearers of the name Gillis in the U.S.
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