Gilyan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
Gilyan is one of the many names that the Normans brought with them when they conquered England in 1066. The name Gilyan came 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 Gilyan family
The surname Gilyan was first found in Suffolk where Giliana was listed in the Feet of Fines in 1198.  Many of the family stayed in Normandy as in the same year, Udon Galien was listed there.  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. 
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. 
Early History of the Gilyan family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gilyan 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 Gilyan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Gilyan Spelling Variations
It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Gilyan are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Gilyan include Gillham, Gillam, Gilliam, Gilham, Gillem, Gillum, Giliam, Gwillam, Gwillham, Gwilliam, Gwilham, Gyllham, Gylham and many more.
Early Notables of the Gilyan 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 Gilyan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Gilyan family
Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Gilyan, or a variant listed above: Benjamin Gillam, a ships carpenter, who made the trip in 1635 and settled in Boston. Susan Gilham made her home in Jamaica in 1661; Susan Gilham settled in Barbados in 1661.
Related Stories +
- ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
- ^ 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)
- ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)