This English nickname of GELLATLY was perhaps given to a messenger. The name was originally derived from the Old English word GON (to go) and LIHTLY (lightly and swiftly). In Scotland the name has altered into various forms, and is of uncertain origin, perhaps an unidentified habitation name. The earliest known bearer is William Galithli, who witnessed a charter at the beginning of the 13th century. Henry Gellatly, the illegitimate son of William the Lion, of whom little is known, was the grandfather of Patric Galythly, one of the pretenders to the crown of Scotland in 1291. In Ireland the name is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic Mac an Ghalloglaigh 'the son of the gallowglass'. A gallowglass was a mercenary retainer or auxiliary soldier. In 1296 a royal writ was issued to the sheriff of Aberdeen on behalf of Henry Golitheby, who rendered homage in that year. Ranald Galychtly was the burgess of Dundee in 1461, and John Galichly of Ebruks sold the temple land of Lethindy in 1472. John Galychtly was a tenant of Midil Drome in 1489 and Gilbert Galetly was the burgess of Dundee in 1592. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification.
The name has many forms and has been spelt as Gellitly (1676) Gellitlie (1687) Gelletlie (1735) and Alletrie (1700). The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (Galletly).
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