View Full Version : The name 'Gillyflower'?

17-07-2007, 7:05 PM
My great grandfather was born in the 1870s, and brought up by a 'baby farmer' in Leeds, Yorkshire. He used his adopted family's Yorkshire surname all his life and that is the name we have used, as we don't know our 'real' name.

We grew up with a story that once a year, on his birthday a carriage drew up and a lady got out and gave him presents. Then she'd go away again. This was supposed to be his birth mother. And that was all we knew about it.

However, my great uncle managed to find out that the mystery woman was from Ireland, and apparently, had the surname/title 'Gillyflower'.

She was still alive when my great uncle first found out her identity, but he never approached her as he didn't want to cause embarrassment.

I can find no reference even to the existence of the surname Gillyflower, apart from some sparse IGI stuff for 17thC London! Apparently, my great uncle was certain she was Irish, and sure about the name.

Anyone ever heard the name? Or could anyone have a look for me and see what they can find?

17-07-2007, 7:46 PM
I have tried searching Google (Google is my best friend) but all I can find is the plant! Gillyflower is another name for wallflower. I didn't know that so I have learnt something new today.

I tried a free name search in Irish Origins and it found none. There are some entries in British Origins. I don't have a sub for that site at the moment.

17-07-2007, 10:06 PM
Ancestry also has some references to the name Gillyflower.

They also have the spelling as GUILFOYLE. Sounds more Irish to me.

"It's not what you say but the way that you say it" :D

I believe you can do the basic search for free.

Regards, Mutley

18-07-2007, 2:22 PM
According to the Oxford English dictionary:

Gillyflower - any of a number of fragrant flowers, such as the wallflower or white stock.
ORIGIN: Old French gilofre, girofle, from Greek karuophullon, from karuon 'nut' + phullon 'leaf'

The modern French girofle is a clove (as in the spice) and the modern Greek garifallo is a carnation.

Not that it helps in your search!!

There are no Gillyflowers on Genesreunited, nor on GenForum and nothing on Rootsweb. :(