Meaning and Origin of the Name Gillies

The Gillies name is a boy’s name derived from the Gaelic name Gille Iossa. The meaning of Gillies, and its ancestor, is “servant of Jesus.”

History of the Gillies

“Gille Iossa” was originally a name of a medieval Scottish chief who was also known as Malise mac Gilleain (1235-1300), who was the head of what would become the Maclean clan. His name has been variously rendered as Gille-Iosa, Maulis, Maolisa, mhaoilisa, Maoiliosa, and Gillise MacGillean. Both “Maol” and “Gille” mean “servant of” in Scots Gaelic, while “Iosa” means “Jesus.” “Malise” is an Anglicized version of mac Gilleain’s first name.

Malise assumed leadership of the clan in 1263, when the Scottish-Norwegian War was at its height. He and his clan fought under the command of the Scottish king, Alexander III. At the Battle of Largs, his leadership and bravery so impressed his foes that the Icelandic historian Sturla Þórðarson wrote about him in his account of King Haakon Haakonson, which he finished in the late 1260’s.

Popularity of the Name

The popularity of Gillies as a first name is low, but it is a relatively common surname or last name. Gillies has five variant forms: Ghilles, Ghillies, Gilles, Gillis, and Gilliss.

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