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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.


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 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 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]


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.


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


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


  • 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-)



  • 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. ^ 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)

Other References

  1. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  2. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  4. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  5. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  6. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  7. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  8. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. 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 25 October 2015 at 11:03.

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