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Geelan Coat of Arms / Geelan Family Crest

This surname of GEELAN was originally derived from the Gaelic O'Giallain, and the name is familiar to County Leitrim. It may possibly have been derived from 'giall' meaning hostage. The name is a variant of Gilfillan, Gilfilland, Gilliland, Gellan and Kilfillan. The Irish prefixes of Mac (son of) and O (grandson or descendant of) gave rise at an early date, to a set of fixed hereditary names in which the literal patronymic meaning was lost or obscured. These surnames originally signified membership of a clan, but with the passage of time, the clan system became less distinct, and surnames came to identify membership of what is called a 'sept' of people all living in the same locality, all bearing the same surname, but not necessarily descended from a common ancestor. Adoption of the name by people who did not otherwise have a surname and by their dependents was not uncommon. Later, nicknames were in some cases to supersede the original clan names. The name was taken to Scotland by settlers and early records of the name mention that in the last quarter of the 12th century Gillefali Kede witnessed a grant to the Abbey of Arbroath. Gillefalyn (without surname) held land in Lauderdale in 1213. Gilefan Mac Guostuf, witnessed a charter in the year 1217. Gilofan Kerd, a mariner in the service of Alexander de Argadia, was, with others, arrested at Bristol on suspicion of piracy in 1275. Gilofan (without surname) was park keeper at Cardross in 1329. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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