Origin, Meaning, Family History and Giles Coat of Arms and Family Crest
Giles Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This English/Scottish and Norman French name originally developed from a medieval personal (first) name, the Latin name Aegidius, from the Greek world aigidion, meaning “kid” or “young goat”. It is believed the Latin name translates as “a wearer of goatskin”, perhaps a reference to a holy man who did good works.
This masculine given name was popularized by the cult of the a 7th-century Provencal hermit, and forms such as Gidi and Gidy took root in southern French, and Gili or Gilli took root in the area of the Alpes-Maritimes, and Gille and GIle took root elsewhere. This hermit, better known as St. Giles the Hermit was born in Athens, Greece c. 650 AD during the reign of the Roman Empire. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia about his life: “Giles first lived in retreats near the mouth of the Rhône and by the River Gard in Septimania, in today’s southern France. The story that he was the son of King Theodore and Queen Pelagia of Athen [dubious – discuss] is probably an embellishment of his early hagiographers; it was given wide currency in the Legenda Aurea. The two main incidents in his life were often depicted in art. The Legenda Aurea links him with Arles, but finally he withdrew deep into the forest near Nîmes, where in the greatest solitude he spent many years, his sole companion being a deer, or red deer, who in some stories sustained him on her milk. Giles ate a Christian vegetarian diet. This retreat was finally discovered by the king’s hunters, who had pursued the hind to its place of refuge. An arrow shot at the deer wounded the saint instead, who afterwards became a patron of the physically disabled. The king, who by legend was Wamba, an anachronistic Visigoth, but who must have been (at least in the original story) a Frank due to the historical setting. He held the hermit in high esteem for his humility in rejecting all honours save having some disciples. Wamba built him a monastery in his valley, Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, which Giles placed under the Benedictine rule. He died there in the early part of the 8th century, with the highest repute for sanctity and miracles”.
The name was brought to England and Scotland by the Norman French, the names Ghilo and Gilo appear in the Domesday Book of 1086 AD, which was a survey of England and Wales ordered by William The Conqueror. The family first established itself in Lincolnshire, England where they were granted lands after the Norman Conquest of 1066 AD by William the Conqueror. One website claims: “The family name Giles is believed to be descended from the Norman race, frequently but mistakenly assumed to be of French origin. They were more accurately of Viking origin. The Vikings landed in the Orkneys and Northern Scotland about the years 870 A.D., under their King, Stirguid the Stout. Thorfin Rollo, his descendent landed in Northern France about the year 940 A.D. The French King, Charles the Simple, after Rollo laid siege to Paris, finally conceded defeat and granted Northern France to Rollo. Rollo became the first Duke of Normandy, the territory of north man. Rollo married Charles’ daughter and became a convert to Christianity. Duke William, who invaded and defeated England in 1066, was the descendant from the first Duke of Normandy”. It also states “William Guyles acquired lands and estates in Sussex in 1296. William Giles purchased land in Kent in 1317, and Nicholas Giles settled in Suffolk in 1346. The family soon moved north and by the 14th century the Giles name was found in Kailzie in Pebbleshire, Scotland. Meanwhile the English family seat was established at White Ladies, Aston in Worcestershire, and the Giles flourished in England until the end of the middle ages. Notable amongst the family at this time was Giles of Lincolnshire”.
In his book, A Dictionary of English and Welsh surnames, Charles Wareing Endell Bardsley stated the following in regard to this last name: “This surname is derived from the name of an ancestor. —the son of Giles,’ a curious familiar form for Egidius”.
In his 1912 book, Surnames of the United Kingdom, author Henry Harrison offers up some alternative theories on the surname’s etymology: “(Anglo-French-Latin-Greek) 1 Downy-Beard [French Gilles, Jules, Latin Julius; Greek τουλος, down, first growth of the beard] 2 Gil(l)’s (Son): v. Gill1. (Anglo-French-Teut.) by metathesis for Gis(e)l = Pledge or Hostage [O.H.Ger. gísal- Old English gís(e)l=O.N. gísl] (Anglo-Celt.)? English genit. of Gille or Giolla = Boy, Servant [Gaelic gille = Irish giolla] (Anglo-Latin-Greek)? Ægis (Jupiter’s Shield) [Latin Ægidius; Greek αίγις, genit. αίγίδος] Giles is a difficult name of diverse origin. It has always been Latinized as Ægidius,but what is there phonetically common between the two?”.
Other sources mention it may be from the Flemish name Gilis or the Danish Giles, both personal names. Another source claims Giles translates as “shield bearer”. It was sometimes confused with the Germanic name Gisel, a short form of the personal name Gilbert.
In some cases, in Ireland, it was adopted as an Anglicizes equivalent of Gaelic O’Glaisne, a name present in County Louth, based on the world glas, meaning “green”, “blue”, or “gray”. Author Woulfe also stated Giles may be an Anglicized spelling of the Celtic/Gaelic name MacGoill in County Galway.
Giles Family Motto
The Giles family motto, of one of the Scottish branches of the family, is Pensez a moi, which means “Think of me”.
Spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Gyles, Gille, Jiles, Gile, Gelis, Gueilles, Gellis, and Jile.
Early Bearers of the Giles Surname
The first known bearers of this surname was Ailward Gile who was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Buckinghamshire, England in 1176 AD. Robert de Gueilles of Normandy was recorded in the Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae in 1198 AD. Godfrey Gile of England was recorded in England in 1189 AD. John, Thomas, and Matilda were recorded in 1272 AD. William Gilis gave his land of Mosplat to the church of Lanark, Scotland in 1214 AD. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists three bearers of this surname: Jordan filius Egidii (Lincolnshire) and Osbert filius Egidii (Lincolnshire). Robert Gellis was a chaplain in Scotland in 1527 AD. Jhone Gelis was recorded in Gowane (Govan), Scotland in 1527 AD.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Giles ranks 805th popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following four states: Utah (181st), Alabama (431st), Virginia (436th), Georgia (544th), and Maine (550th).
The surname Giles frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (374th), Scotland (1,570th), Wales (295th), Ireland (827th) and Northern Ireland (1,285th). In England, it ranks highest in counties Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Hampshire. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in Orkney and Aberdeen. In Ireland, it ranks highest in Leinster. In Wales, it ranks highest in Cardiganshire.
The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (993rd), New Zealand (364th), Australia (348th), and South Africa (8,148th).
In his 1890 book, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, Henry Brougham Guppy, states the following in regard to this last name: “Though not peculiar to Wilts, Giles is an old surname in this county; it is at present mostly to be found in Devizes and its neighbourhood. One of the leading participators in the Penruddock rising in Wilts of 1655 bore this name”.
Giles Family Tree & Giles Genealogy
Giles from England to Maryland
Thomas Giles, son of Roger, was born in England in 1545. He had a son named Thomas who was born in England in 1571. He had a son named William who was born in England in 1598. He had a son also named William. This son, William Giles Sr., was born in New Castle Upon Tyne (possibly), England c. 1640. He came to colonial America and settled in Maryland. He married a woman named Dorcas and had a son with her named William Jr. William Giles Jr. was born in Somerset, Maryland c. 1665. He married twice: Arabella (surname not known) and Margaret Haddin. He was the father or Mary and Thomas. His son Thomas was born in Somerset, Maryland c. 1700. In 1730, he married Ann, daughter of William Harris and Frances, and had a son with her named John. John Giles was born in Stepney Parish, Somerset, Maryland in 1746. He enlisted in the Maryland Militia under Captain Handy’s Company. He received 650 acres of land in Washington County, Georgia in 1797. In 1775, he married Elizabeth B., daughter of Turner Davis, and had issue with her named Sarah, Elijah, Margaret Peggy, and Nancy. His son Elijah was born in Maryland in 1776. He married Faraby Wooten and had a son with her named David. David Giles was born in Jones, Georgia in 1804. In 1823, he married Barbara Roberts and had a son named Moses. Moses Jackson Giles was born in Houston County, Georgia in 1837. He married Winnie Catherine Stephens and had a son with her named William. This son, William Harvey Giles, was born in Mr. Pleasant, Titus, Texas. In 1891, he married Mara Ada Kelsey had issue as follows: David Henry, Moses Jackson, Perry Kelsey, John Benjamin, Winnie Ellen, Willie May, Thomas, Lillie Lee, Lula Mary, Nora Etta Giles, Esther Ann, Beaulah Beatrice, and George James.
Giles from England to Salem, Massachusetts
John Giles was born c. 1550 AD. He married a woman named Amy and had a son with her named Mark. Mark Giles was born c. 1571 AD. He married Margaret, and had a son with her named Edward. Edward Giles was born around 1583 AD. He married Susan Ahl and had a son with her, also named Edward. This son, Edward Giles or Gyles, was born in Hopton England c. 1580 AD. He went to colonial American. He married Elizabeth Hazen or Hassen, daughter of William Mowry, and he had issue as follows: Edward, Matthew, and Hannah. His sons are discussed as follows:
1) Edward Giles was born in Wiltshire, England in c. 1610. He married Bridget, daughter of Henry Scudder and Elizabeth Hale, and was the father of the following children: Mehitable Collins, Remember Moses, Eleazer Sr., John (of Beverly), Matthew, and Hannah.
2) Matthew Giles was born in Dover, New Hampshire in 1604. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Gresham and Francis Strickland, and had the following issue with her: Elizabeth, Thomas, Major James, John, F. Mark, Marjorie, and Paul.
Gyles from Hopton, England to Salem Massachusetts
Edward Gyles was born in Hopton, Devon, England in 1580. He went to colonial America. In 1604, he married Elizabeth Hassen in East Kingston, Rockingham, New Hampshire and had two sons with her: Matthew and Mathew. Mathew Giles was born in Dover, New Hampshire in 1643. He had a son named Mark. In 1700, Mark married Frances Perkins in Dover, New Hampshire. They had a son named Mark who was born in New Hampshire in 1676. He married Sarah Twombly issue with her as follows: Ann, Mark III, Paul, Sarah, and Esther. His son, Mark Giles III, was born in Dover, New Hampshire in 1706. He married Liddie Tebbetts and had issue with her as follows: Elizabeth, Mark, Lydia, Paul, and Joseph. His son, Joseph Giles, was born in 1735. He married Martha Pinkham and had a son with her named Samuel, amongst others. Samuel Lewis was born in 1776. He was a farmer by occupation. He served as a sergeant of a military company in the War of 1812. He was a member of the Free Will Baptist Church. He had sons named George and Benjamin. Benjamin Paul Giles was born in 1811. He married Mary Merry and had a son with her named George. George Elliott Giles was born in Boothbay, Maine in 1835.
1) Thomas Gyles married Hannah Hitchin in Ellesmere, England in July 1662
2) John Gules married Mary Sutton, in Kegworth, Leicestershire, England in October 1657
3) Mary Giles married George Lea in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England in September 1697
4) Simon Giles married Ann Gibbs Bristol, Rhode Island in February 1720
5) William Giles married Ann Hauston in Cheshire, England in January 1782
6) John Giles married Jennet William in Llanharan in Glamorganshire, Wales in December 1765
7) John Giles married Mary Lewelin in Llanharan, Glamorganshire, Wales in May 1754
8) Evan Giles married Margaret Lewis in Tyhegston, Glamorganshire, Wales in 1757
9) William Giles married Mary Roberts in Coventry, Warwickshire, England in August 1769
10) Edward Giles married Elizabeth Kempson in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England in January 1750
11) Sarah Giles married George Garton in Loughborough, Leicestershire, England in September 1760
12) Joseph Giles married Elizabeth David in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England in October 1759
13) Edware Giles married Agnes Heme in 1576
Early American and New World Settlers
Some of the earliest settlers in colonial America bearing this name include:
1) Jonathan Giles, age 21, came to Virginia aboard the Triall in 1619
2) Margrett Giles came to Virginia in 1623
3) John Giles came to Maine in 1625
4) Edward Giles came to Salem, Massachusetts in 1633
5) Henry Giles came to Virginia in 1635
6) George Giles came to Virginia in 1639
7) James Giles came to Virginia in 1639
8) Anthony Giles came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1642
9) John Giles came to Virginia in 1642
10) Jonell Giles came to Maryland in 1648
11) George Giles came to Virginia in 1652
12) Thomas Giles came to Virginia in 1653
13) John Giles came to Virginia in 1654
14) Mathew Giles came to Maine in 1653
15) Robert Giles came to Virginia in 1652
16) Mary Giles came to Virginia in 1654
17) William Giles came to Virginia in 1654
18) Mary Giles came to Virginia in 1655
19) Thomas Giles came to Virginia in 1658
20) Marke Giles came to New England in 1663
Several thousand members of the Giles family came to the United States through Ellis Island, during the nineteenth century, including:
1) Edward Giles came from Mardy Wales aboard the Teutonic in 1902
2) Louis Giles came from England aboard the Umbria in 1902
3) Vizenti Giles came from Lordzye, Russia aboard the Ryndam in 1907
4) Frederick Giles came from London, England aboard the Lusitania in 1908
5) Maria Giles came from Lussey, Belgium aboard the Kroonland in 1908
6) Schaje Giles came from Norvograd aboard the Arconia in 1907
7) James Giles came from Aberdeen, Scotland aboard the Lucania in 1904
8) Anna R. Giles came from Genoa aboard the Prinz Adalbert in 1904
9) Mary Giles came from Cornwal, England aboard the New York in 1903
10) John Giles came from Liverpool, England aboard the Ivernia in 1903
11) Herbert Giles came from London, England aboard the Saint Paul in 1904
12) Eileen Ivy Giles came from Wellington, England aboard the Adriatic in 1914
Some of the earliest settlers in Canada bearing this name include:
1) William Giles came to Nova Scotia in 1749
2) John Giles came to Nova Scotia in 1750
3) Edward Giles came to Nova Scotia in 1760
4) Nathan Giles came to Nova Scotia in 1760
5) John Giles came to Torbay, Newfoundland in 1801
6) Mary Giles, age 20, and Nancy Giles, age 36, came from Cork, Ireland to Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the Charlotte in 1834
Some of the earliest settlers in Australia bearing this name include:
1) John Giles, age 33, came from Cornwall or Somerset, England to Van Diemen’s Land (present day Tasmania) aboard the York in 1829
2) Abraham Giles came from Somerset, England to Van Diemen’s Land aboard the Argyle in 1831
3) William Giles came from Berkshire, England to Van Diemen’s Land aboard the Arab in 1834
4) WE. Henry Giles, age 23, came to Kangaroo Island aboard the Buffalo in 1836
5) William Giles came to Kangaroo Island aboard the Hartley in 1837
6) Smith Giles, age 10, came from England to Australia in 1852
7) Robert Giles, age 12, came from England to Australia in 1852
8) Frederick Giles, age 20, came to Melbourne in 1853
Some of the earliest settlers in New Zealand bearing this name include:
1) Henry Giles came to Wellington in 1840
2) John Giles, age 27, came to Port Nicholson aboard the Olympus in 1841
3) George Giles came to Auckland aboard the Jura in 1861
4) Hubert Giles came to Auckland aboard the James Wishart in 1874
5) John Giles came from Gloucestershire, England to Auckland aboard the Waitangi in 1874
6) Frederic Giles came from Middlesex, England to Canterbury aboard the Arato in 1874
7) Richard Giles came from Yorkshire, England to Canterbury aboard the Glenmark in 1871
Grantees of Arms
1) Giles, of Devon, by Cooke
2) Giles, of Worcestershire and of the Custom House of London, 1630, by Segar
3) Clement Gyles of Melton Mowbray, county Leicestershire, gift, 1562
4) John Giles of Gyles of Bowden, Devon, 10 June 1545
5) Thomas Gyles, citizen and Haberdasher of London, assigned 28 July 1579 by Cooke
6) Giles-Puller of Youngsbury, county Hertfordshire
There are hundreds of notable people with the Giles surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include:
1) Michael John “Johnny” Giles is a former footballer (soccer player) from Ormond Square, Dublin, Ireland who plated from 1957-1983 for five different teams including Manchester United, and plated for the National Team from 1959-1979, later going on to manage several teams.
2) Ashley Fraser Giles (1973) was an English cricketer born in Chetsey, Surrey, nicknamed “King of Spain” and “The Wheelie Bin”, who played for Warwickshire between 1993-2003
3) William Ernest Powell Giles (1835-1897) was an Australian explorer, born in Bristol, England, who led give major expeditions into central Australia
4) Marcus William Giles (1978) is a former baseball player, born in San Diego, California who played from 2001 to 2007 for the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres
5) Richard Porter Giles (1840-1896) was an American attorney who was elected to the US House of Representatives for Missouri in 1896, but died about 14 days later
6) Brian Stephen Giles (1971) is a former baseball player from El Cajon, California, who played for three different teams in the MLB (Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Sane Diego Padres) from 1995-2009, having made the All-Star Team twice
7) John “Jack” Laurent Giles (1901-1969) was a naval architect known for sailing yachts and founding the Laurent Giles Ltd company, that designed more than 1,000 of such type boats
8) Trevor Giles, or Trevor MacGoill, was a Meath Gaelic soccer player whose career spanned from 1994-1995
9) Reverend John Allen Giles (1808-1884) was an English historian and clergyman born in Mark, Somerset, who was best-known for being a scholar of the Anglo-Saxon language.
10) William Branch Gules (1762-1830) who was the 24th Governor of Virginia from 1827-1830, served in the US Senate for Virginia from 1804-1815, in the US House of Representatives for Virginia from 1790-1798, and in the Virginia House of Delegates several times.
Giles America Civil War Veterans
There were several soldiers with the last name Giles who served in the American Civil War, including the following:
1) Abraham Giles of the 74th Regiment Ohio Infantry (Union)
2) Thomas M. Giles of the Chicago Mercantile Battery Illinois Light Infantry (Union)
3) Adam A. Giles of the 22nd Regiment Indiana Infantry (Union)
4) Albert Giles of the 9th Regiment Maine Infantry (Union)
5) Almond C. Giles of the 12th Regiment Michigan Infantry (Union)
6) Alexis Giles of the 1st Regiment New Orleans Infantry (Louisiana)
7) Albert Giles of the 18th Regiment Kentucky Infantry (Union)
8) Abraham J. Giles of the 10th Regiment South Carolina (Confederacy)
9) Allen Giles of the 14th Regiment Alabama Infantry (Confederacy)
10) Alonzo C. Giles of the 9th Regiment Georgia Infantry (Confederacy)
11) Andrew A. Giles of the Avis Company (Confederacy)
12) Benjamin Giles of the 9th Regiment Georgia Infantry (Confederacy)
13) John R. Giles of the 4th Regiment Louisiana Infantry (Confederacy)
14) Addison Giles of the 14th Regiment North Carolina Infantry (Confederacy)
Giles America Revolution Veterans
There were several soldiers with the last name Giles who served in the Revolutionary War, including the following:
1) Lieutenant Ezekiel Giles of New Hampshire
2) Private Asa Giles of Massachusetts
3) Private James Giles of Massachusetts
4) Private James Giles of Virginia
5) Private John Giles of New Hampshire
6) Sergeant Samuel Giles of New York
7) Private Thomas Giles of New Hampshire
8) Captain William Giles of New York
9) Corporal Robert Giles of New York
10) Sergeant Ebenezer Giles of Massachuseetts
11) Private Mingo (or Munga?) Giles of Connecticut
12) Private Richard Giles of New York
13) Private Thomas Giles of Delaware
14) Private William Giles of Rhode Island
15) Seri Gyles of New York