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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Gilliam family come from? What is the English Gilliam family crest and coat of arms? When did the Gilliam family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Gilliam family history?

The vast movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 brought the Gilliam family name to the British Isles. Gilliam comes from the Old French given name Guillaume. The name Guillaume was modified into two forms after arriving in England: Gillham and William.

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Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Gillham, Gillam, Gilliam, Gilham, Gillem, Gillum, Giliam, Gwillam, Gwillham, Gwilliam, Gwilham, Gyllham, Gylham and many more.

First found in Essex where they had been granted lands by King William, Duke of Normandy, for their assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilliam research. Another 189 words(14 lines of text) covering the years 1276, 1283, 1379, 1524, 1636, 1682, 1665, 1701, 1690 and 1699 are included under the topic Early Gilliam History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 265 words(19 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gilliam Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Gilliam or a variant listed above:

Gilliam Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Wm Gilliam, who arrived in Virginia in 1650

Gilliam Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Edward Gilliam, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1836
  • A C Gilliam, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1872
  • Edward L Gilliam, who arrived in Mississippi in 1875

Gilliam Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century


  • John Gilliam, who landed in Mississippi in 1905

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  • Holly Michelle Gilliam (b. 1944), original name of Michelle Phillips, American singer, songwriter, and actress best known as part of The Mamas and The Papas
  • John Gilliam (b. 1945), former American NFL football player
  • Sam Gilliam (b. 1933), American Abstract painter
  • Cleve Gilliam, American founder of the Gilliam Candy Company, Paducah, Kentucky in 1927
  • Terence Vance "Terry" Gilliam (b. 1940), American-born, British film director and member of the Monty Python comedy troupe
  • David Gilliam, Canadian film and television actor


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  • The History of the Burkett-Gilliam Generation by Maxine Burkett Seltzer.
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  1. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  2. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  3. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  5. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  6. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  7. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  9. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  10. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  11. ...

The Gilliam Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gilliam Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 16 June 2014 at 16:17.

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