Gillespie History Quiz


  1. Where did the earliest Gillespies to Canada settle, what Province?

16 of the Best Things to do in St. John's, Newfoundland (Tips + More!) - Taylor's Tracks

  1. In what years did the Potato Famine in Ireland rage, and to what main country did a million Irish flee?

The Great Irish Famine

  1. Who was the Gillespie General who fought on the Plains of Abraham (Quebec City) in the battle between the British and the French for control of Canada? He later brought his family to Renfrew County in Upper Canada to settle.

Battle of the Plains of Abraham - Wikipedia

  1. British soldiers, fleeing the American Colonies with its anti British feeling after the American Revolution, were called Loyalists. What Gillespie family from New Jersey was part of the movement and became some of earliest settlers to Norfolk County in today’s Southern Ontario near Lake Erie.

British grenadiers at the Battle of Bunker Hill, painting by Edward Percy Moran, 1909.

  1. Who was the Gillespie soldier who guarded Napoleon on the Isle of Elba where he was marooned, and who (the soldier) later came to settle in Upper Canada (Ontario)?

Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo—here's why

  1. Irish peasants who were jailed for crimes in the 1700s were sent far away to what country in punishment?

  1. Name two Gillespie Captains who were in charge on ships that travelled the world seas during the 1700 and 1800s.
  1. There was a flood of young Gillespies 18 to 25 year olds, who left Ireland just before World War I. From what Irish country did they originate,  and where did they all go? Hint, they boarded ships at Londonderry.
  1. During the American Civil War and the fight for black emancipation, Gillespie served on both sides of this conflict, with brothers from the same family sometimes on opposite sides. Name two Gillespie Leaders in this conflict, one from the South and one from the North.

George Lewis Gillespie cph.3b07732.jpg

  1. Who was the famous poet, a young fighter pilot of World War I who was born in China, but was with the Canadians in England. He was killed in an accident when another training plane hit his plane? He wrote, O, I have slipped the surley bonds of earth… 
  1. In World War II, a Canadian Gillespie family lost husband and two sons on opposite sides of the world. Where are the men buried?
  1. During the British rule in India, what famous Gillespie General was killed when leading an attack in the North? A statue of him is found in County Down, Ireland.

Unknown Person - Major-General Robert Rollo Gillespie (1830-90)

  1. What Gillespie rose through the ranks to lead the Australian Army for many years?

Ken Gillespie - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

  1. What Gillespie was the US Ambassador that spoke directly with Saddam Hussein?

Glaspie hussein.jpg

  1. Where in Scotland did most of the Scottish settlers to the Province of Ontario come from in its earliest years, then called Upper Canada, or Canada West? Another Scottish group from same area went to the American Colonies, to what state?
  1. Does the Gillespie Name originate with one individual and from him all the rest of us are descendants?

Score out of 20: ________________________

P.S. Whoops. Did I  just made a mistake with one item in adding these photos? For an additional 10 points, can you spot it? Who has the sharpest eyes?  Just a touch of fun.






  1. Newfoundland – came for the fishing
  2. 1843 to 1848 with peak 1845 – all came on ships to Canada
  3. General James Gillespie from Scotland
  4. William Gillespie 1747-1835, wife Ann Everingim and families
  5. Thomas Gillespie later died in Canada. A Roger Gillespie from Co Antrim, Ireland fought at the battle of Waterloo in Belgium in 1815, led by British Commander, The Duke of Wellington. Roger died in Suffolk, England (this last info from NZ researcher, Sue) 
  6. Australia
  7. Daniel, James
  8. Co Donegal, Ireland to New York, USA
  9. South: George Lewis Gillespie from Tennessee; also 2 Colonels from Texas, another Colonel from Tennessee, 1 from Alabama. North – none specifically found yet.
  10. John Gillespie Magee – parents Anglican missionaries.
  11. Two boys are buried in France; father buried in Philippines
  12. Sir Robert Rollo Gillespie
  13. Army Chief Ken Gillespie
  14. Ambassador April Glaspie
  15. Isle of Islay, Argyllshire, Scotland. North Carolina
  16. No one individual began us all for last name.

Whoops  No 12- that is Sir Robert Rollo Gillespie all right, but not the one that was killed in India and whose statue is in Co Down. That famous man was a generation earlier. Here, below is his photo and dates of his life.

Robert Home | A portrait of Sir Robert Rollo Gillespie (1766-1814) wearing military uniform, Three quarter length, standing in a landscape, a hill-fort in the background | MutualArt

21 January 1766 – 31 October 1814

He is buried in Meerut Cantonment Cemetery, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India.  His full history is found on this website , and many other places.


Hey! Who was the other soldier in the photo? That was another British soldier:

Major-General Robert Rollo Gillespie (1830-90) c.1882

He served in the Anglo-Egyptian war.  From the collection of Queen Victoria.













Road Blocks To Genealogy


Road Block High Resolution Stock Photography and Images - Alamy

Sooner or later a researcher in family history will hit a road block. No record can be found to extend one’s study.  It happened to me when I was tracing the roots of my paternal Atkinson relatives from Canada to Ireland,  especially in County Sligo. I was  confident I had the correct family in Canada, as I had proven  that my great grandfather, William Gillespie  had arrived from overseas and was working on the Rideau Canal in February 1829. I found the name of his wife,   Eliza Atkinson,  on another record, so was taking a hard look at all the Atkinsons in the Ottawa area in that time period. The McCabe List is a wonderful document listing all the workers on the canal and provided the origins of each Irish worker: County, Parish, Townland.

Just as there were only two Gillespies on that list,  that also matched an immigration document and land records in the area, there was only one Atkinson on records, so I began thinking he could well be related to Eliza.  So I was enjoying trying to find the locations listed for Robert Atkinson’s origin in Sligo.

An early map showed me that this  man came from near the sea just north of the main town in the county. Then I found a listing in Ireland records of two other Atkinson families who had lived in that same area in the correct time period.  However, both men had the same first name, and that brought my study to a halt rather abruptly.  I could not distinguish between them, probably father and son I thought to myself. I  twisted and turned many ways to try to get past this blockade to no avail.  So I laid it aside.

Sometimes one can find a new path and sometimes one cannot.  The problem in Ireland is that so many early records were destroyed by rebels when they burned down the main document repository in the 1920s. Since then a lot has been done to find alternative ones in replacement,  and some of these are now on the Internet. So time is a huge factor,  so we continue learning new skills, and hopefully find other avenues of search as they are developed. So, sometimes laying aside your study for awhile, and then picking it back up will refresh your own look at it.

The Naming Pattern is  a great encouragement as one tries to uncover the names of earlier generations. The Scots in particular named their children according to their birth order in a specific way to honour themselves and previous generations.  This lasted hundreds of years, but finally watered down around 1850 to today. The Irish did the same but were not as strict about it, and made a few slight changes. Both patterns are discussed on the Internet on several sites.    If one can get a full listing of a family’s children in birth order, one can  recognize the first names of the grandparents of an earlier generation, and other family members.

Scots often named children by following a simple set of rules:
  • 1st son named after father’s father.
  • 2nd son named after mother’s father.
  • 3rd son named after father.
  • 1st daughter named after mother’s mother.
  • 2nd daughter named after father’s mother.
  • 3rd daughter named after mother.
It was the naming pattern that showed me the high probability that my William Gillespie’s father would be Samuel Gillespie.  In checking Ireland records I found a person with this name in the exact location and time frame I was investigating. Certainly it isn’t enough, but a clue is a wonderful thing. No other Samuel Gillespie nearby either I discovered. It immediately told me that William’s brother (unconfirmed but seriously considered) , who travelled with him to Canada would have been the third born son of the family,  using the naming pattern. It also would mean that William’s father was still living when he departed for Canada. What grief for the parents knowing they might never see him again. Unless they planned to join him overseas at some point once he was established. This was a common practice.  Just a hint of history, but that is what we are seeking.
What else might one try?   Discuss it with others on posts to places like Genforum, or start a new column on this subject at Reddit Genealogy.  Draw on the expertise of others. No one knows it all, and we just looking for clues.
four women looking down
Make sure you have the facts correctly documented on the right people, as I once trailed a family for two  years when I finally realized I was in the wrong location.  That is very true in Canada, which repeats  many locations of Irish and Scottish  names,  as people remembered their homeland.   I have often found three or four locations with the same name, and that holds true as I tried to sift  Irish locations, and other countries   Rethink this carefully.
Use the big genealogy giants for ideas. Just this morning I watched a video about Scottish genealogy on Find My Past, and the speaker gave some information I had never heard of before. He mentioned that people tended to follow water ways in the earliest period, and so moved up and down either the east or  west
coasts of Scotland but less so internally or to opposite sides.
Who are these big giants if you are a beginning in researching your family tree?  There are quite a few. The Mormons have an excellent website of records at  By pass the introductory wizard by using search, which will pull up a world map. Click on the area of your interest, and all the records for that area will be listed with links to those records.  The Mormons have the best genealogy library in the world, in my opinion and I am not a Mormon. Their records are free, and can be loaned to Mormon church libraries across the world, which are open to anyone.
Although I rarely use it, is a big giant who has taken over other business, such as Rootweb. It provides records and I have used its DNA portal to find cousins across the world. Some public library pay for it and let patrons have access with their library card. At certain times in the year Ancestry will open its records to the general public for free for a trial which gives one an opportunity to see if its content fits your style of researching.
Find My Past and Fold 3 are a couple of others most people visit from time to time.  Countries like Ireland and Scotland have central websites of records free to access.
There are many more, and in time you learn about these, especially if you use She offers links to thousands of websites across the world for family history research.







In thinking of someone just beginning their research of family history, a few suggestions to consider. What kind of person are you? Detailed, precise, thorough? Or laid back, taking life as it comes and hating the tediousness of too much detail?  Basic attitudes and abilities mesh differently in people, and there is no one perfect way to do family history. Each person finds their own way in time. Most people welcome helpful hints.

Here are the important things I want to share  after a life-time of researching records.

  1. Get organized in your office as you gather records, so you have a system of recording them so they don’t get lost. Maybe type records into a computer genealogy program you can buy. I used Family Tree Maker for years and can recommend it, but there may be better ones,  but I no longer keep up on that. However, one might  use one offered free by the big genealogy giants. Be very careful with these giants, as I had my own work stolen by one who produced it as though I was a willing participant,  and then wants to charge me to access my own information.

As a visual learner, I like things in print, so prefer to store records  in two-inch binders, sometimes using plastic sleeves for protection of important pages. My own family history is stored this way,  with a backup on the computer and on discs.   I’ve also published one book about my family history. I’ve tried using file cards, file folders with loose papers; hand writing on family group sheets and pedigree charts. Now I use Access databases and MS Word Documents and prefer transferring all records to a website so others can share in my discoveries. Having someone protect and manage that website and extend it beyond my own life matters to me.  Also protecting the work of others shared with me.

Who will prolong and protect your own family history? Give careful thought to that, and even update your will so your work will not be lost.  Updating your records in this library’s archives would be helpful. I also recommend sending it to the Mormons in Salt Lake City, which I consider the best genealogy library in the world. I am not a Mormon. Make sure your records are stored safely, possibly in several locations where they will not be destroyed by fire, flood, or the aging of the passing of time. Having them stored in several media types will help with that.

2. Begin with yourself by gathering documents to prove who you are. Do the same as you expand your search outward to your own siblings, and then your parents. Don’t just assume from personal knowledge. There may be secrets to uncover. Oh did that happen to me.   Family members may not want to share information, such as birth certificates, marriage records and so on. Always guard private information about anyone who is still living. Remember this if you choose to post your family history over the Internet or want to tell others. There are hackers who are stealing confidential information for their own illicit purposes.

3.  In time you will find it helpful if you focus on one side of your family, be it the father’s line (paternal) or mother’s (maternal) line in research. Always try to find a document to prove every step of your research, but be aware that not all information will be accurate on those records. It depended on the person providing the information and sometimes that recorder made mistakes. I am remembering a travelling minister who performed a marriage but later recorded the witness as the groom and groom as witness.  Also,  questions asked on records may have changed from year to year,  so watch for that on census studies in particular. Finding more than one record to prove something helps clarify things. On this site, I have done that with official government records taking precedence over others.

4. It may be your family history has already been researched by someone else.  Have you checked with this office?  Be sure to look at for its databases. In particular,  many Gillespie family trees have been  researched yet I see people inquiring about them as a newcomer without realizing that.  However,  the other person’s research may not  completely agree with what you find in your own studies. That is true of my own family history. Don’t be upset; Just use it for ongoing deeper research, a challenge to ensure greater accuracy and understanding.  Figuring out the genealogy puzzles of life, and having greater appreciation for the history of the past bring great satisfaction.

5.  Finally, family history research can provide some of the happiest moments in life. Visiting cemeteries, communicating with others across the world,  and travelling to Scotland and Ireland to visit the land of my great grandparents,  who arrived in Canada as early as 1828,  are the highlights for me,  as well as the work on this website.