Show ContentsGillam History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Gillam is a name that came to England in the 11th century wave of migration that was set off by the Norman Conquest of 1066. Gillam comes from the Old French given name Guillaume. The name Guillaume was modified into two forms after arriving in England: Gillham and William.

Early Origins of the Gillam family

The surname Gillam was first found in Suffolk where Giliana was listed in the Feet of Fines in 1198. [1] Many of the family stayed in Normandy as in the same year, Udon Galien was listed there. [2] Due the prevalence to the often personal name, the name was scattered in early censuses as show by the Rotuli Hundredorum of 1279 which listed Gilianus de Levekenore Buckinghamshire and Adam filius Jellion in Cheshire. [1]

Years later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed the name as both a personal name and a surname: Petnis Gillam; Willelmus Giliam; Giliaum Spyser, 1379; and Ricardus Gillumman, i.e. the servant of Gillura. [3]

Early History of the Gillam family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gillam research. Another 95 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1276, 1283, 1379, 1524, 1636, 1682, 1665, 1701, 1690 and 1699 are included under the topic Early Gillam History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gillam Spelling Variations

Before the last few hundred years the English language had no fixed system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations occurred commonly in Anglo Norman surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Gillam were recorded, including Gillham, Gillam, Gilliam, Gilham, Gillem, Gillum, Giliam, Gwillam, Gwillham, Gwilliam, Gwilham, Gyllham, Gylham and many more.

Early Notables of the Gillam family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Zachariah Gillam (Guillam) (1636-1682) American sea captain involved in the early days of the Hudson's Bay Company. Benjamin Gillam, American sea captain, brother of Zachariah, who in 1665 commanded the Charles which brought Radisson and Groseilliers to England where they began the foundation of the Hudson's Bay Company; and James Gilliam, also known as James Kelly, (died 1701), an English pirate active in...
Another 70 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gillam Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gillam Ranking

In the United States, the name Gillam is the 6,967th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [4] However, in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Gillam is ranked the 469th most popular surname with an estimated 101 people with that name. [5]

United States Gillam migration to the United States +

The unstable environment in England at this time caused numerous families to board ships and leave in search of opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad in places like Ireland, Australia, and particularly the New World. The voyage was extremely difficult, however, and only taken at great expense. The cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels caused many to arrive diseased and starving, not to mention destitute from the enormous cost. Still opportunity in the emerging nations of Canada and the United States was far greater than at home and many went on to make important contributions to the cultures of their adopted countries. An examination of many early immigration records reveals that people bearing the name Gillam arrived in North America very early:

Gillam Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Benjamin Gillam, who settled in Boston in 1630
  • Joe, Thomas and William Gillam, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Ann Gillam, aged 28, who landed in New England in 1635 [6]
  • Benjamin Gillam, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1635 [6]
  • Jo Gillam, aged 21, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Gillam migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Gillam Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Gillam, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Madawaska" in 1849 [7]

New Zealand Gillam migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Gillam Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Walter S. Gillam, aged 21, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Apelles" in 1874

Contemporary Notables of the name Gillam (post 1700) +

  • Charles W. Gillam (b. 1861), American politician, Mayor of Windom, Minnesota; Member of Minnesota State Senate 10th District, 1915-26 [8]
  • Bernhard Gillam (1856-1896), English-born American political cartoonist
  • George Edwin Gillam (b. 1863), American Republican politician, Member of Michigan State House of Representatives from Iosco District, 1897-1900 [8]
  • E. O. Gillam, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Texas, 1940 [8]
  • Tony Gillam (b. 1961), English writer and musician
  • Sean Gillam (b. 1976), retired Canadian professional NHL ice hockey defenceman for the Detroit Red Wings
  • Emily Gillam (b. 1977), New Zealand bronze medalist field hockey player at the 1998 Commonwealth Games
  • Ray Gillam, Australian rugby league player
  • Florence Gillam Birdwell (1924-2021), American educator, musician, and singer

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  6. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) "MADAWASKA" 1849. Retrieved from
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 10) . Retrieved from on Facebook