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St Giles Cathedral

Giles (m, f) The early popularity of St Giles, patron
saint of cripples and beggars, is seen in the number of
churches which are dedicated to him, including the High
Kirk in Edinburgh. The name Giles comes through French
Gile and Gide (surviving as surnames) from Latin
Egidius or Aegidius. The Latin name derives in turn from
a Greek word meaning ‘kid.’ The significance of this
probably lies in the early use of kid leather for shields.
In her History of Christian Names, Charlotte Yonge
comments on the former use by ‘Scottish ladies’ of
Egidia. This may have been the written form of a name
that was still spoken as Giles until a spelling pronunciation
replaced it. A notable example of such a Scottish lady,
incidentally, was Miss Egidia Menzies, chieftairiess of Clan
Menzies. Giles was especially popular as a female name
in the Edinburgh area in former times, no doubt because
of the saint’s role as patron of the city. One can compare
the use of Mungo in Glasgow. In the Highlands Giles
was thought of as an English equivalent of Gaelic Sileas
or Silis (see Julia). Giles is now rarely used in Scotland
and it has reverted to being a male name.

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