Gillingham History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Gillingham is one of the many names that the Normans brought with them when they conquered England in 1066. The Gillingham family lived the Old French given name Guillaume. The name Guillaume was modified into two forms after arriving in England: Gillham; from which Gillingham derives; and William. Alternatively, the name could have been a local name as "of Gillingham." In this case, there are three parishes so named in England: a parish in Norfolk, near Beccles; a parish in Dorset, near Shaftesbury; a parish in Kent, near Chatham. [1]

Early Origins of the Gillingham family

The surname Gillingham was first found in Dorset, Norfolk, and in Kent. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list: Gild de Gillingham in Dorset and Robert de Gyllingham in Norfolk. During the reign of Edward I., Hugh de Gillingham was found in Kent and Robert de Gillingham was found in Norfolk. Richard de Gillyngham, was listed in Somerset, during the reign of Edward III. [1] Another source claims the Dorset local was the original. "The Gillinghams evidently derive their name from the Dorset town thus called." [2] We will take a moment to discuss the ancient history of Gillingham, Kent. "This ancient village, which is recorded in Domesday Book by the name of Gelingeham, was much exposed to the ravages of the Danes; and it is said that 600 noblemen, who landed here in the retinue of Alfred and Edward, were murdered upon the spot, by Earl Godwin. Charles I. erected a fort for the protection of the royal dockyard and navy, which, proving ineffectual to resist the Dutch in their celebrated expedition up the river, in 1667, was subsequently enlarged, and distinguished by the name of Gillingham Castle. The church was formerly remarkable for what was deemed a miraculous image of the Virgin, called 'Our Lady of Gillingham,' in a niche over the western door, to which frequent pilgrimages were made." [3]

Early History of the Gillingham family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gillingham research. Another 67 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1735, 1611, 1625, 1611, 1613, 1678, 1617, 1689 and 1695 are included under the topic Early Gillingham History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gillingham Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Gillingham, Gillam, Gwilliams, Gilham and others.

Early Notables of the Gillingham family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Francis Dillingham ( fl. 1611), was an English divine, a native of Dean, Bedfordshire (1625). He was one of the translators of the authorised version of the Bible (1611). [4] Theophilus Dillingham (1613-1678), was an English churchman and academic, Master of Clare Hall, Cambridge...
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gillingham Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Gillingham migration to the United States +

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Gillingham name or one of its variants:

Gillingham Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Henry Gillingham, who settled in Virginia in 1642
  • Henry Gillingham, who landed in Virginia in 1642 [5]
Gillingham Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Gillingham, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1843 [5]
  • Conrad Gillingham, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [5]
  • H Gillingham, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [5]
  • R. Gillingham, who arrived in San Francisco in 1852 with a lady
Gillingham Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Walter Gillingham, aged 15, who arrived in New York in 1919 aboard the ship "Belgic" from Liverpool, England [6]
  • John Rowley Gillingham, aged 36, who arrived in New York in 1920 aboard the ship "Baltic" from Liverpool, England [7]

Canada Gillingham migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Gillingham Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • William Gillingham who was listed at Greenspond, Newfoundland in 1816 [8]
  • Thomas Gillingham, a planter at Kelligrews, Newfoundland in 1816 [8]
  • Charles Gillingham, a planter at Ochre Pit Cove, Newfoundland in 1834 [8]
  • Thomas Gillingham who was listed at Change Islands, Newfoundland in 1841 [8]
  • Charles Gillingham, a planter at Lower Island Cove, Newfoundland in 1851 [8]

Australia Gillingham migration to Australia +

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

Gillingham Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Gillingham, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Bussorah Merchant" in 1848 [9]
  • Jane Gillingham, aged 18, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Brankenmoor" [10]
  • James Gillingham, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Branken Moor" in 1849 [10]
  • Ellen Gillingham, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asia" in 1851 [11]

New Zealand Gillingham 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:

Gillingham Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Stephen Gillingham, (b. 1816), aged 25, British yeoman travelling from Plymouth aboard the ship "Timandra" arriving in New Plymouth, Taranaki, North Island, New Zealand on 24th February 1842 [12]
  • Mrs. Joanna Gillingham, (b. 1819), aged 22, British settler travelling from Plymouth aboard the ship "Timandra" arriving in New Plymouth, Taranaki, North Island, New Zealand on 24th February 1842 [12]

Contemporary Notables of the name Gillingham (post 1700) +

  • Gale Gillingham (1944-2010), American NFL football player, two-time Super Bowl Champion
  • Charles Thomas "Charlie" Gillingham (b. 1960), American Academy Award nominated musician
  • David Gillingham (b. 1947), American composer
  • Andrew Gillingham (b. 1995), American actor
  • Nelson Gillingham, American politician, Member of New Hampshire State House of Representatives, 1893 [13]
  • Joseph J. Gillingham, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1856 [13]
  • James T. Gillingham, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1868 [13]
  • Grover C. Gillingham, American Republican politician, Candidate for New Hampshire State House of Representatives from Newport, 1938 [13]
  • Mrs. E. B. Gillingham, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Massachusetts, 1952 [13]
  • Francis John Gillingham CBE, MBE(Mil.) (1916-2010), English pioneering neurosurgeon, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (1980)
  • ... (Another 2 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6QC-JT1 : 6 December 2014), Walter Gillingham, 16 Jan 1919; citing departure port Liverpool, arrival port New York, ship name Belgic, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  7. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6ZC-DMX : 6 December 2014), John Rowley Gillingham, 01 Oct 1920; citing departure port Liverpool, arrival port New York, ship name Baltic, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  8. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) BUSSORAH MERCHANT 1848. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1848BussorahMerchant.htm
  10. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The BRANKEN MOOR 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849BrankenMoor.htm
  11. ^ State Library of South Australia. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) ASIA 1851 from London 12 05 1851 and southampton with Captain Roskell, arrived Port Adelaide on 1-09-1851. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Asia.htm
  12. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  13. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 23) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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