Gemmills History


The earliest record of the Gemmills in Scotland is found in the County of Ayr. Two branches of the family lived here from a very early day the oldest branch at Templehouse in the parish
of Dunlop the other at Fenwick in the parish of Kilmarnock most of the Gemmills in the United States seem to have come from the Fenwick stock. The little town of Fenwick is but a few miles from Irvine and lies between Irvine and Glasgow both are near Kilmarnock. Here the Druids once worshipped and offered sacrifices. In 1593, the village by a decree of Parliament was swallowed
up in the parish of Kilmarnock.

In 1685, Peter Gemmill, a young man about twenty-one years old, was shot at Fenwick. He and several other staunch Covenanters seeing the approach of the King's dragoons for the purpose of forcing obedience to the royal church, boldly set forth to meet them, and all were killed. On a small slab at Fenwick is this inscription : "Here lies the corpse of Peter Gemmill, who was shot
to death by Nisbet and his party in 1685 for bearing his faithful testimony to the cause of Christ. Age 21 years. "This man like Anchorite of old, For conscience sake was thrust from home and hold.
Blood-thirsty red coats cut his prayer short, And even his dying groans were made their sport. Ah, Scotland breech of solemn vows repent, Or blood thy crimes will be thy punishment."

This same Peter Gemmill has a place in "The Book of Martyrs," and is mentioned in the volume called "The Cloud of Witnesses." He had a brother David who was driven into exile
to the Barbadoes and later returned to America. The later book refers to a John Gemmill of Fenwick, who while attending a prayer meeting was set upon by a band of troopers. Rushing
from the church he seized the bayonet of a soldier and thrust him through ; then made good his escape. It also contains an account of Ralph Gemmill, who was burned at the stake because he re-
fused to yield to the demands of the church. Irvine, which was a part of the parish of Kilmarnock, is on the Firth of Cylde. It was the home of Robert Burns. It was also the home of William
and Zachariah Gemmill, the first of whom was the ancient father of the Gemmills in York County, Pa. These Gemmills were undoubtedly of the same stock that originally settled in Fenwick.
Robert Bruce also came from this parish. Here he enlisted an army, with which he drove back the English invader. At least one Gemmill was among those wro fought with him at Bannock-

Later, when Charles I of England determined to force the established church upon Scotland, most of the inhabitants of Kilmarnock joined hands with Cromwell in the battle at Marston
Moor, which resulted in the complete overthrow of the King. The records show that for six generations beginning in the fourteenth century the eldest son of the parent family was called
John Gemmill. The first John suffered martydom June 1, 1679, at the hands of Claverhouse whose bloody acts against the Covenanters terrorized the whole of Scotland.

Most of the Gemmills who came to America as earlv settlers, found their homes in York County, Pennsylvania, but some of them located in Maryland, others in Connecticut, some in Massa-
chusetts, and some in New Hampshire. There is an old cemetery in York County, Pennsylvania, wherein the Gemmills of several generations were buried. It is known as Downing's Graveyard.
Some of the markers in this cemetery show that Gemmills were buried here one hundred and twenty-six years ago. This burying ground, however, was abandoned long ago and most of the
markers had, until recently, fallen upon the unkept graves. About two years ago, several members of the Gemmill family, led by John M. Gemmill of Laurel, York County, Pennsylvania,
gathered up the broken markers and removed them to a chartered cemetery not far away. Among the markers thus fallen was one over the grave of Hannah Gemmill, my grand-
mother and the first wife of James Gemmill. She died in 1837.

WILLIAM GEMMILL was born in Irvine, Scotland, in 1722. He emigrated to America and settled in East Hopewell Township, York County, Pennsylvania, in 1745. His wife was Jannett
Gemmill, whom he married in Scotland. He served as Lieutenant in the French and Indian War, and as a Major in the War of the Revolution. He was both a farmer and a merchant, and for
several years was County Commissioner of York County, Pennsylvania, during which time he assisted in building the first county jail. Several children were born to this marriage. They were:
John, David, Ann, Margaret, William, James and Robert.

He had a brother Zachariah Gemmill, who was also born in Irvine, Scotland, in 1730. This Zachariah Gemmill was a writer(lawyer) and achieved distinction in his day. It is probable that
the ancestral Scottish home of William and Zachariah was on a narrow strip of sandy ground near the shores of Irvine, called Bogside. This land is now used for a golf course.

JOHN GEMMILL, the oldest son of William and Janet, was born in York County, Pennsylvania, in 1745. He first married Agnes Wallace, who bore him eight children. They were
Margaret, William, James, Janet, John David, Agnes and Ann. His second wife was Elizabeth, with whom he had four children. They were Mary, Jean, Robert and Sarah. It is said that both
he and his sons were very large men.  He died in 1798 and was buried in Downing Cemetery in York

for more:


Gemmills Family Tree

Generation No. 1

1.  JOHN GEMMILL was born 25 Oct 1696 in Ayrshire, Scotland and died 1738 in York County, PA.  He married ANN BARNETT. 

Children of JOHN GEMMILL and ANN BARNETT are:

2     i.  John Gemmill

3   ii.  William Gemmill, b. 1-16-1722 d. 3-2-1789; m. Jeanet Hepburn, d. 3-14-1789. 

Generation No. 2

3.  WILLIAM GEMMILL (John) was born 16 Jan 1722 in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland and died 2 Mar 1789 in York County, PA.  He married JEANET HEPBURN.  She died 14 Mar 1789. 


4    i.   John Gemmill, b. 1745 d. 1798; m. Agnes Wallace, d.  1787; m. Elizabeth

5     ii.  James Gemmill, b. 1762 d. 1799; m. Mary A. Norris

6   iii.  Ann Gemmill

7   iv.  David Gemmill m. Janet, b. 1752 d. 12-25-1839.

8   v.  Maj. Robert Gemmill, b. 1762 d. 5-11-1846.  Generation No. 3

4.  JOHN GEMMILL (William, John) was born 1745 and died 1798.  He married AGNES WALLACE.  She died 1787.  He married ELIZABETH.  All are buried at Old Round Hill (E. Hopewell Presbyterian) Cemetery. 


    i.  Margaret Gemmill, b. 2-27-1770.

   ii.  William Gemmill, b. 8-31-1771 d. 8-5-1849; m. Martha Edie, b. 8-4-1774 d. 6-8-1839.

  iii.  James Gemmill, b. 1773.

   iv.  Janet Gemmill

    v.  John Gemmill, b. 5-6-1775; m. Mary Smith

   vi.  David Gemmill, b. 3-10-1781

  vii.  Ann Gemmill

  viii.  Agnes Gemmill

Children of JOHN GEMMILL and ELIZABETH are:

  ix.  Mary Gemmill

   x.  Jean Gemmill

   xi.  Robert Gemmill

   xii.  Sara Gemmill

5.  JAMES GEMMILL (William, John) was born 1762 and died 1799.  He married MARY A. NORRIS. 

Children of JAMES GEMMILL and MARY A. NORRIS are:

    i.  Robert S. Gemmill, b. 1840; m. Margaret I. Andrews.

   ii.  Joseph W. Gemmill, b. 12-4-1845; m. Emma C. Good.

6.  ANN GEMMILL (William, John)

7.  DAVID GEMMILL (William, John) married JANET.  She was born 1752 and died 25 Dec 1839. 

8.  ROBERT GEMMILL (William, John) was born 1762 and died 11 May 1846. 

Children of ROBERT GEMMILL are:

    i.  William Gemmill

   ii.  Catherine Gemmill, b. 1800 m. James Wallace, b. 10-1788 d. 1863.

  iii.  Ann Gemmill, b. 9-16-1805 d. 12-12-1866 m. David Wilson Wallace, b. 11-25-1807 d. 3-11-1883.

   iv.  David Gemmill m. Martha Gemmill

    v.  Sarah Gemmill m. Moses Rankin

   vi.  Margaret Gemmill, b. 2-8-1801 d. 5-3-1883 m. Andrew Wallace, b. 5-28-1799 d. 5-15-1873.

  vii.  Thomas Gemmill m. Mary Ann Caldwell

  viii.  John Gemmill m. Jane Ann Collins

Generation No. 4

9.  MARGARET GEMMILL (John, William, John) was born 27 Feb 1770.

10.  WILLIAM GEMMILL (John, William, John) was born 31 Aug 1771 and died 5 Aug 1849.  He married MARTHA EDIE.  She was born 4 Aug 1774 and died 8 Jun 1839. 


    i.  John Gemmill, b. 7-14-1795.

   ii.  Mary Gemmill, b. 1787.

  iii.  William Gemmill, b. 10-7-1789.

   iv.  James Gemmill, b. 2-13-1800; m. Hannah Street; m. Ann Norris

    v.  Agnes Gemmill, b. 8-13-1801

   vi.  Martha Gemmill, b. 6-2-1803.

   vii.  David Gemmill, b. 2-21-1805.

  viii.  Robert Gemmill, b. 8-17-1807. 

    ix.  Benjamin Gemmill, b. 8-4-1809. 

    x.  Margaret Gemmill, b. 7-11-1811. 

11.  JAMES GEMMILL (John, William, John) was born 1773.

12.  JANET GEMMILL (John, William, John)

13.  JOHN GEMMILL (John, William, John) was born 6 May 1775.  He married MARY SMITH. 

Children of JOHN GEMMILL and MARY SMITH are:

    i.  Mary Smith Gemmill

   ii.  Robert Gemmill

  iii.  John Gemmill

   iv.  Agnes Gemmill, b. 1810 d. 1890; m. Robert Gemmill Wallace, b. 1817 d. 1878. 

    v.  Martha Eliza Gemmill

   vi.  William Gemmill

   vii.  Margaret Gemmill

  viii.  James Leiper Gemmill

   ix.  Sara Gemmill

    x.  Jennette Gemmill, b. 1819 d. 9-11-1881; m. William Wallace, b. 8-23-1822 d. 1892. 

14.  DAVID GEMMILL (John, William, John) was born 10 Mar 1781.

15.  ANN GEMMILL (John, William, John)

16.  AGNES GEMMILL (John, William, John)

17.  MARY GEMMILL (John, William, John)

18.  JEAN GEMMILL (John, William, John)

19.  ROBERT GEMMILL (John, William, John)

20.  SARA GEMMILL  (John, William, John)

21.  ROBERT S. GEMMILL (James, William, John) was born 1840.  He married MARGARET I. ANDREWS.


    i.  Franklin P. Gemmill

   ii.  James N. Gemmill

   iii.  Robert A. Gemmill

   iv.  Mary L. Gemmill

    v.  Hugh L. Gemmill

   vi.  William W. Gemmill

   vii.  Annie P. Gemmill

  viii.  Flora L. Gemmill

22.  JOSEPH W. GEMMILL (James, William, John) was born 4 Dec 1845.  He married EMMA C. GOOD.

Children of JOSEPH W. GEMMILL and EMMA C. GOOD are:

    i.  Lottie I. Gemmill

   ii.  James L. Gemmill

  iii.  Sara E. Gemmill

   iv.  Alfuah M. Gemmill

23.  WILLIAM GEMMILL (Robert, William, John)

24.  CATHERINE GEMMILL (Robert, William, John) was born 1800.  She married CAPT. JAMES WALLACE.  He was born Oct 1788 and died 1863.  Both are buried at Wallace Cemetery, York County, PA.   

For Children of CATHERINE GEMMILL and JAMES WALLACE see Wallace family tree:

25.  ANN GEMMILL (Robert, William, John) was born 16 Sept 1805 and died 12 Dec 1866.  She married DAVID WILSON WALLACE.  He was born 25 Nov 1807 and died 11 Mar 1883. 

For Children of ANN GEMMILL and DAVID WILSON WALLACE see Wallace family tree:

26.  DAVID GEMMILL (Robert, William, John) married MARTHA GEMMILL

27.  SARAH GEMMILL (Robert, William, John) married MOSES RANKIN.

28.  MARGARET GEMMILL (Robert, William, John) was born 8 Feb 1801 and died 3 May 1883.  She married ANDREW WALLACE.  He was born 28 May 1799 and died 15 May 1873.  Both are buried in the Wallace Cemetery.  Supposed to have 8 children. 

29.  THOMAS GEMMILL (Robert, William, John) married MARY ANN CALDWELL

30.  JOHN GEMMILL (Robert, William, John) married JANE ANN COLLINS.

Generation No. 5

31.  JOHN GEMMILL (William, John, William, John) was born 14 Jul 1795.

32.  MARY GEMMILL (William, John, William, John) was born 1787. 

33.  WILLIAM GEMMILL (William, John, William, John) was born 7 Oct 1789.

Children of WILLIAM GEMMILL are:

    i.  John Gemmill

   ii.  Frank Gemmill

  iii.  Mary Jane Gemmill

   iv.  Maggie Gemmill

34.  JAMES GEMMILL (William, John, William, John) was born 13 Feb 1800.  He married (1) HANNAH STREET.  He married (2) ANN NORRIS. 

Children of JAMES GEMMILL are:

    i.  William Gemmill, b. 9-18-1826 d. 11-24-1904; m. Susan A. Brenner, b. 9-13-1829.

   ii.  Thomas Gemmill, b. 1-21-1830.

  iii.  Martha Gemmill

   iv.  Sara Gemmill

    v.  Robert Gemmill

   vi.  John Gemmill

  vii.  Wylie Gemmill

 viii.  Mary Gemmill

35.  AGNES GEMMILL (William, John, William, John) was born 13 Aug 1801

36.  MARTHA GEMMILL (William, John, William, John) was born 2 Jun 1803.

37.  DAVID GEMMILL (William, John, William, John) was born 21 Feb 1805.

38.  ROBERT GEMMILL (William, John, William, John) was born 17 Aug 1807.


    i.  John G. Gemmill

39.  BENJAMIN GEMMILL (William, John, William, John) was born 4 Aug 1809.

Children of BENJAMIN GEMMILL are:

    i.  William Gemmill

   ii.  Lou Gemmill; m. Joseph Anderson

  iii.  Margaret Gemmill; m. Phillip Hammond

   iv.  Ella Gemmill; m. John Stansburry

    v.  John B. Gemmill, b. 1837 d. 1914

39.  MARGARET GEMMILL (William, John, William, John) was born 11 Jul 1811.

40.  MARY SMITH GEMMILL (John, John, William, John)

41.  ROBERT GEMMILL (John, John, William, John)

42.  JOHN GEMMILL (John, John, William, John)

43.  AGNES GEMMILL (John, John, William, John) was born 1810 and died 1890.  She married ROBERT GEMMILL WALLACE.  He was born 1817 and died 1878.  Both are buried at Wallace Cemetery, York County, PA. 

For children of AGNES GEMMILL and ROBERT GEMMILL WALLACE see Wallace family tree. 

44.  MARTHA ELIZA GEMMILL (John, John, William, John)

45.  WILLIAM GEMMILL (John, John, William, John)

46.  MARGARET GEMMILL (John, John, William, John)

47.  JAMES LEIPER GEMMILL (John, John, William, John)

48.  SARA GEMMILL (John, John, William, John)

49.  JENNETTE GEMMILL (John, John, William, John) was born 1819 and died 11 Sept 1881.  She married WILLIAM WALLACE.  He was born 23 Aug 1822 and died 1892.  Both are buried at Hopewell United Presbyterian Church Cemetery, York County, PA. 

For children of JENNETTE GEMMILL and WILLIAM WALLACE see Wallace family tree: