This English surname was taken to Ireland by settlers, where it became Mac an Ghaill, meaning a foreigner. The name is spelt as Magill in east Ulster. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. GILL derives from the Middle English word GILLE - a locational name - the dweller in a deep glen or valley. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Almost every city, town or village existing in the Middle Ages has served to name one or more families. Where a man lived was his means of identification. When a man left his birthplace or village where he had been known, and went elsewhere, people would likely refer to him by the name of his former residence or birthplace, or by the name of the land which he owned. Early records of the name mention Ghille (without surname) listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. Many of the early names recorded in medieval documents denote noble families but many also indicate migration from the continent during, and in the wake of, the Norman invasion of 1066. There was a constant stream of merchants, workmen and others arriving in England during this time. In 1086 the Record of Great Inquisition of lands of England, their extent, value, ownership and liabilities was made by order of William The Conquerer. It is known as the Domesday book.
A notable member of the name was Sir David Gill ( 1843-1914 ) the Scottish astronomer, born in Aberdeen, and educated there.
He was HM Astronomer at the Cape Observatory from 1879 until 1907, and pioneered the use of photography for charting the heavens.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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