Origins of the Gillespie Clan Name

This unusual surname dates back to before the 10th century and is of Gaelic-Scottish origin. They occupied territories of County Down and County Mayo, and branches also settled in County Donegal.

The name means “son of the servant of the Bishop”, from Mac Giolla Easpaig. The Gillespies who came from Scotland were thought to be erenaghs or landlords who managed local church lands.

Gillespie clan, coat of arms

In 1175 during the reign of Rory O’Connor, the medieval annals record the first spelling of this name as Teag Mac Giolla Epscoip, a chief of a barony in Co. Down. 

The coat of arms granted to this clan has a silver shield and a chevron wavy between three roses. The chevron represents the roof of a building to signify protection and faithful for strength and loyalty and wavy for the sea. The roses symbolise hope and joy and is also the symbol for the seventh son.

Variations of the name are Gillespie, Bishop, Mac Giolla Easpaig.