This surname GEIL which is a variant of Giles was originally of Scottish origin, and was taken to Ireland by early settlers. The name was derived from the Old English name Egidius, and the earliest of the name on record appears to be Egidius Gowsell, documented in the year 1273. Jordan filius Edgidii was recorded in the year 1300. John Geals from Fyvie in Aberdeenshire was killed in the first Great War. 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.
Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward 11 (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. Later instances of the name mention Nicholas Giles and Christian Newell who were married at St. Mary, Aldermary, London in 1564, and Edwarde Giles and Agnes Herne were married at the same church in the year 1576.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered in Ireland.
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