Gilleis Burgesses - William and John

This story needs to go back in time, just a little, in order to come forward and relate to the conclusions of the previous page, about the Gilleses in the mid to late 17th century. It therefore goes to testaments from the earlier part of the 17th century, for John Gilleis and for Jean Gilleis -  possibly his sister or niece - and Patrik Bucknay. (Remember ‘Patrik Buckney’? These are the parents of the Patrik mentioned before as a baptismal witness in 1673,.)

The first Gilleses known from Linlithgow parish records are Willliam and John, who had children baptised in the 1610s, followed by a George in the 1620s and an Alexander with one child in 1622. Linlithgow baptism records begin in 1613; however, a testament testamentar for John makes it clear that both John and William had married before then as their first children do not have extant registered baptisms.

It may help to have the page on Four Generations of William Gilleses open as you read on.

The children were:

John’s family - 

  • Euphame (~1612?), known about from John’s testament, and her marriage and children
  • James 30/10/1614, died before his father; had children
  • Agnes 02/03/1617
  • Jannet 04/04/1619, executrix for her father
  • John 16/12/1621
  • John 22/12/1625

William’s family -

  • William (~1612?), known from John’s testament and this William’s marriage and children
  • Nicoll 18/12/1614
  • Androw 13/11/1616
  • Alexander 15/09/1618
  • Christan 10/12/1620

(There may have been other children before 1613, but Euphame, daughter of John, and William, son of William are the only ones for whom there is identifying evidence.)

These baptism records do not give the mother’s names, unfortunately. They do however name witnesses to the baptisms, which may hold clues to other family members. For the children of William Gilles, witnesses include John Gilles on all four records, Nicol Falconer (for Nicoll and Androw) and William Gilles (for Alexander and Christan), David Chambers (only for Nicoll), Androw Mitchell (for Androw), and Jon Marshell (for Christan). There was therefore another William Gilles, close enough to be twice a baptism witness, and very probably either father or uncle of William the father of these children.

Witnesses to the baptism of John’s daughter Jannet were William Gilles, William Thomson and James Peibils, and William Thomson was also a witness for Agnes along with James Peibils and Thomas Aiken. The witness names on records for James (James Waugh, John Aiken though this name is blotted, James Short) and for the two Johns (Jon Nimo, John Peibils, John Borthik; John Bell, John Peibls, John Calder) do not include Gilleses or Thomsons. It may be, however, that John’s un-named wife was a Peiblis.

A John Gilles (most probably but not necessarily the same one) is also a witness to the baptism of Euffame, daughter of George Gilles born in 1625, along with David Chambers, and also in 1625 to the birth of a son John to Thomas Aiken. George’s first listed child Hellin had witnesses Willliam and John Gilles, as did the last listed, Jannet.

The witness names point to connections between families. As Nicol Falconer appears in two baptisms, it’s tempting to speculate that Nicol Falconer is either father or brother of the unknown wife of William Gilles, the person for whom the child Nicoll baptised in 1614 is named - but there’s no hard evidence here. There is a John Falconer in Linlithgow with children Robert (1614) and Jannet (1617), a Nicoll Falcouner who had a child with Hellein Hutcheson in Falkirk, 27/02/1620, and earlier a George Falconer, indweller in Linlithgow, who left a testament testamentar dated 3/11/1591. 

There are however connections evident from other documents, including the 1648 testament testamentar of John Gilles (and the much later testament dative of Margaret Lithgow with inventary compiled by her son-in-law John Gilles, and the marriage document of this later John with Margaret’s daughter Agnes Thomson which identifies John’s father as William Gilles, Currier burgess of Linlithgow - discussed on another page, however). So we look first to the network of connections in the early 17th century, with the testaments for John Gilleis, maltman, and also Patrick Bucknay, litstar, and Jean Gilleis his first spouse.

The Testament Testamentar of John Gilleis, 1648

John’s testament, dated 8th April 1648, identifies him as a Maltman Burgess of Linlithgow. He had on 6th February that year dictated a ‘latterwill’ which forms part of the testament, and nominated his daughter Jannet as executor and intromitter with his goods, gear, money etc. His inventar (inventory) came to £484 Scots, there were no debts owing to him but some that he owed, for bolls of beir, and to various servitors including a Thomas Nimo and a Euphame Gilleis. The ‘resit of frie gear the debts deducet’ (the residue) came to £302 10s. In his legacies he names his two surviving daughters, Jonnet and Euphame, and his deceased son James who has left three children; Jonnet who will receive her legacy at the next Martinmas and the younger two not yet of age, James and Agnes. 

Euphame is married to James Dick, maltman burgess of Linlithgow, and the parish records show children John and Robert born to them in 1638 and 1640. Euphame is therefore the oldest surviving child of John Gilleis, with no baptism record but a likely birth around 1610 (before the 1613 start of extant records from Linlithgow).

The young children of James are described as ‘Naturall’ in their grandfather’s testament. There are births in the parish records of Jonnet and James to James Gilles and either Christan (for Jannet) or Margrat (for James) Mershell, but I have not found a record for Agnes. Witnesses for James (1642) are James Rule and James Peibls and he is described as ‘bastard’ - as is Jonnet (1634), for whom the witnesses are Wm Gilles and William Bishop. There is no way to know whether Christan and Margrat are the same person, with an error on the name: and if they are the same person, there is a question as to why she and James were not considered married. However they may be different women, probably related, and likely to be from the Mershell family who do figure in the various documents and so appear connected with the Gilleses.


Linlithgow Kirk Session minutes begin only in 1645 - unfortunately! However Presbytery records run from 1610 and may be worth a look, with James being apparently a ‘serial offender’.

Finally in John’s testament

Last he humblie desyres Patrick Baknay litstar and 
Williame Gilleiss youngar to give to the s[ai]d Jonnet his dochtir thair
best advyse In all hir necessar affairs and odoes and to con-
curr asist and defend hir thairintill In sua far as lyes In
thair power…

And the witnesses to the testament are

Williame Archbald Lau[fu]ll sone to
Allane Archbald cordinar and Williame Gilleis Lau[fu]ll
sone to the s[ai]d Williame Gilleiss burgess of the s[ai]d bru[gh]


As a William Gilleiss has been mentioned only once before in the document, it implies that the ‘William Gilleiss younger’ who is asked to assist Jonnet in her executor role is the father of the William Gilleiss who has witnessed the document. This would mean three William Gilleses, an elder who is not in the document, the ‘younger’ who is a burgess of Linlithgow, and this younger’s son, also William. (However there is scope for suggesting that the burgess may be ‘elder’ and the son ‘younger’, with some confusion on the part of the maker of the testament, especially as the son marries around 1634 putting his birth at some point in the decade before 1613.) 

However, we already know from the baptism entries that there was another William, witness to births of children of William the burgess in 1618 and 1620 - so indeed there is an ‘elder’ William.  Whether in that case he is father or uncle of William the burgess is not clear. The William Gilles who witnessed baptism of John’s daughter Jannet (1619) and appears on records for George’s children could be either the earlier one or the burgess, and the baptism witness for the illegitimate daughter Jonnet (1634) of young James could be any one of three - the first one, the burgess, or his son.

Summary of the William Gilleses (and kin) so far

This gets confusing, especially with so many William Gilleses. What I currently think runs thus:

There was a William Gilles whom I’ll call Wm1, born around the mid 16th century, with a connection to Linlithgow as he is a baptism witness there. Either he or a brother had sons, William (Wm2) and John, born around 1580-90 (or of course John could be a younger brother of Wm1 - we can’t know). ‘William the younger’ (Wm2) became a burgess of Linlithgow, probably as a currier, and John a maltman burgess, each with status inherited either from father, from fathers-in-law, or from ‘masters’ to their apprenticeships. George and Alexander Gilles may be also brothers or cousins of William2 and John.

John married, his wife’s name not being known, but possibly Peibles or Thomson, and his eldest surviving child, Euphame (known as Effie) was born just before the start of extant records. Effie married James Dick, maltman, around 1635, and had sons John (baptism witnesses John and William Gilles) and Robert (witnesses Robert Dick and William Gilles). James, son of John, died before his father and James’s eldest child Jonnet, though illegitimate, had baptism witnessed by a William Gillis.
John’s own daughter Jannet, born in 1619, was unmarried in 1648.

William (Wm2) married, his wife’s name not known but possibly ‘Falconer', and his eldest surviving child appears to be also William (Wm3), born around 1610, marrying Rinny Muir around 1634, with children William (Wm4, 1635, Witnesses including John Gilles), Jannet (1638, witnesses including William Gillis) and Alexander (1641, witnesses William and Alexander Gilles.)  The assumption must be that the William Gillis who is a witness to two of the three baptisms is his father, Wm2.

Please see chart of four generations of ‘William Gilles’ in Linlithgow, and their known children and relatives. I’ve shown William2 and John Gilleis as brothers in this, but they may of course have been cousins or some other family connection….

To be continued… the testaments of Jeane Gilleis and Patrik Bucknay are still to come...

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