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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

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 United States in the 17th Century


  • Wm Gilliam, who arrived in Virginia in 1650

Gilliam Settlers in 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 United States in the 20th Century


  • John Gilliam, who landed in Mississippi in 1905

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  • Robert Ballard Gilliam (1805-1870), North Carolina politician and judge
  • Frank Gilliam (b. 1934), All-American football player and coach for the University of Iowa
  • Burton Gilliam (b. 1938), American actor
  • Garry Montzell Gilliam Jr. (b. 1990), American football offensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks
  • Haywood Stirling Gilliam Jr. (b. 1969), United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • Joseph W. 'Joe" Gilliam Sr. (1923-2012), American former college football quarterback and coach
  • Seth Gilliam (b. 1968), American actor, best known for his role as police detective Ellis Carver on The Wire
  • Cornelius Gilliam (1798-1848), American pioneer of the U.S. state of Oregon, Missouri State Senator (1838-1842) and (1842-1844)
  • Joseph Wiley "Joe" Gilliam Jr. (1950-2000), American professional NFL football quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1972-1975)
  • Victor S. "Vic" Gilliam (b. 1953), American politician, Member of the Oregon House of Representatives (2007-)

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  • The History of the Burkett-Gilliam Generation by Maxine Burkett Seltzer.
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  1. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  2. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  3. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  4. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  5. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  6. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  7. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  8. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  9. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  10. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  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 7 March 2015 at 10:27.

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