There is a little debate on the meaning of the name. It is possibly derived from the Gaelic Gille Moire, meaning follower or devotee of Mary. The prefix Gille, meaning ‘servant/devotee’ in the Middle Ages was normally added as a mark of respect to people who had been given names relating to a particular saint and Mary, being the Mother of God, is considered first among the saints.
However it is also mentioned in company with Gillander the Great Chief of Cumberland around 1140 and Gilmour/re his son perhaps means “Gill the Big”. To date I have not found conclusive evidence of why it means Gill the Big so we keep looking, although I must say I prefer the Gille Moire version, it somehow seems more credible. So until such time as I find anything that disputes that, this is what we will go with.
The fact that there are a multitude of spellings, Gilmour, Gilmore, Gillmoore, Gilmoure, Gilmoor, etc… shows up in many family lines and there is evidence of it changing even from Father to Son as many times it would have been recorded phonetically. So it is no surprise to see all types of spellings making their way into family lines.
The Gilmours belong to the clan Morrison of the Isle of Lewis. The name Morrison also is derived from ‘Mac Ghille Mhuire’ translated meaning son of a follower of Mary. Again giving credence to the Gille Moire origin. View the Scotsclans website for a bit of history of the Clan and an example of its tartan.
Perhaps the most famous residence of the Gilmour family was Craigmillar Castle in South Edinburgh. A former residence of Mary Queen of Scots. Click here for a castle tour Unfortunately the Gilmours left Craigmillar in the early 1700s and left it for ruin and moved into Inch House in the newly named Gilmerton borough of Edinburgh. They did do the decent thing in 1946 and handed Craigmillar over to the nation.