Gillenwater Coat of Arms / Gillenwater Family Crest
There is a large group of surnames, more frequent in English, French, German and Italian names, which are actually a compound of nickname and patronymic. They consist of an adjective indicating size or an attractive quality as a prefix attached to a given name. GILLENWATER is such a name literally meaning 'the son of Giles' who lived near the river or stream. GILLEN is a curious form of Egidius. 13th and 14th Century records have Egidius entered, and thereafter absorbed as Giles. The small villages of Europe, or royal and noble households, even large religious dwellings and monasteries, gave rise to many family names, which reflected the occupation or profession of the original bearer of the name. This was the name of a 7th century Provencal hermit, whose cult popularized the name in a variety of more or less mutilated forms: Gidi and Gidy in Southern France, Gilli in the area of the Alpes-Maritimes and Gille elsewhere. This last form was brought over to England by the Normans, but by the 12th century it was confused with the Germanic name Gisel, a shortened form of Gilbert. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. The arms depicted here have been quartered with GILLEN and WATER. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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