Another researcher goes further back in time to reveal that the third letter of the Greek alphabet is gamma and that of the Hebrew is gimel, both of which mean camel; an observation that leads that researcher to conclude that the names of Gemmill and Campbell share the same origin.
After the Norman Conquest (1066 A.D.), large numbers of the Anglo-Saxon freeholders in England were driven from their possessions, and many of them took refuge in Scotland, particularly in the southwest. It is uncertain when or where the Gamels or Gemmills first settled in Scotland, but circumstances point to a very early, if not the first, permanent settlement of Gemmills located in that upland portion of Ayrshire known as Fenwick. Soon after 1570 there are in the old Fenwick registers at least 23 properties held by different families with the name of Gemmill.(1) The progenitor of the Fenwick Gemmills probably first settled on the lands of Raith no later than 1100 or 1200. Most likely, the first of the Raith or Fenwick Gemmills was from one of the Anglo-Saxon Gamal families in the north of England.(2)
|Fenwick Parish Church|
built in 1643
taken December 2010 by Isabel Wilson of Glasgow
Here at Fenwick James Gammell’s great grandfather John Gemmell married Elizabeth Burns (April 25, 1745.) Their three sons, James, John, and Thomas, were all christened there. Many of the family members, including James’ grandparents, Thomas Gemmell and Alison Wallace, are buried in the Fenwick kirkyard. In this same kirkyard at Fenwick is the grave of a Peter Gemmell, who died as a martyr in the struggles of the Scottish Presbyterians. His gravestone bears this inscription:
Here lies the corps of Peter Gemmell,
Who was shot to death by Nisbet
and his party, 1685, for bearing his
faithful Testimony to the Cause of
Christ. Aged 21 years.
This man like holy anchorite of old,
For conscience sake was thrust from house and hold;
Bloodthirsty red-coats cut his prayers short,
And even his dying groans were made their sport.
Ah, Scotland! Breach of solemn vows repent,
Or blood thy crime will be thy punishment!(3)
|Gravestone of Peter Gemmell (died 1685)|
Photo taken December 2010 by
Isabel Wilson of Glasgow (see her comment below.)
- "It is interesting to note the various spellings, and how Gamal and Gamel gradually changed to Gamyll, afterwards to Gemyl, and, later on, mainly to Gemmill, though some still use the forms Gammell and Gamble. Gemmell has also come to be frequently used, but Gemmill is the older form, and is the prevailing spelling in the Registers after 1570.” (John Leiper Gemmill, p. 22.)
- John Leiper Gemmill, Notes on the Probable Origin of the Name Gemmill or Gemmell, Glasgow, 1909, pp.13, 15, 16.
- John Leiper Gemmill, p. 34.