Gwilliams History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Welsh name Gwilliams go back to those ancient Celts known as the Britons that once occupied the hills and Moors of Wales. This old Welsh surname is from the personal name Gwilliam, which is a Welsh form of the name William.

The name was anciently found in Normandy, France where it was more often than not spelt Guillem and by the Conquest was often seen as Guillaume. [1]

Early Origins of the Gwilliams family

The surname Gwilliams was first found in Cardiganshire where the fist on record was David ap Gwilym, the celebrated Welsh bard. There are two thoughts as to his origin. The first claims that he was born at Bro Gynin in the parish of Llanbadarn Vawr, Cardiganshire, about 1340 and died there about 1400. He was buried in the abbey of Ystrad Flur in the same county. The second claims he was born near Llandaff, Glamorganshire in 1300, and to have died at the abbey of Talley, Carmarthenshire, in 1368. [2]

What is not in dispute is that his parents were Gwilym Gam, a descendant of Llywarch ab Brân, one of the fifteen tribes of North Wales, and Ardudful, sister of Llywelyn ap Gwilym Vychan of Emlyn. He took to studies in Italy and by the age of fifteen, he had returned to Wales where his satirical whit became famous.

He fell in love with Laura for whom he wrote 147 poems. In his lifetime, he is known to have written 262 poems which were collected and published in 1789. "Other poems by him have since been discovered among the manuscript collections of Welsh poetry in the Mostyn library. The British Museum possesses many manuscript copies of his poems. " [2]

At about the same time or perhaps earlier, John ap-Gwilym was Chancellor of St. David's in 1351. The name was also a forenames in East Cheshire. Gwilliam ap Griffith was listed as holding lands there in 1450. [3]

Important Dates for the Gwilliams family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gwilliams research. Another 74 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 135 and 1351 are included under the topic Early Gwilliams History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gwilliams Spelling Variations

Although there are comparatively few Welsh surnames, they have a great many spelling variations. Variations of Welsh names began almost immediately after their acceptance within Welsh society. In the Middle Ages, it was up to priests and the few other people that recorded names in official documents to decide how to spell the names that they heard. Variations that occurred because of improper recording increased dramatically as the names were later transliterated into English. The Brythonic Celtic language of Wales, known by natives as Cymraeg, featured many highly inflected sounds that could not be properly captured by the English language. Spelling variations were, however, also carried out according to an individual's design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations were all indicated by the particular variation of one's name. The spelling variations of the name Gwilliams have included Gwilliam, Gwuilliam, Guilliam, Gwilliams and others.

Early Notables of the Gwilliams family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Gwilliams Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Gwilliams family

Many people from Wales joined the general migration to North America in the 19th and 20th centuries, searching for land, work, and freedom. Like the many other immigrants from the British Isles, they made a significant contribution to the development of Canada and the United States. The Welsh and their descendents added a rich cultural tradition to the newly developed towns, cities, and villages. An investigation of the immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Gwilliams: P.G. Gwllium who settled in California in 1852; Catherin Gwillam settled in Virginia in 1663; John Gwilliam settled in Barbados in 1654; William Gwilliam settled in Virginia in the same year..

Contemporary Notables of the name Gwilliams (post 1700)

  • Dianna Lynn Gwilliams (b. 1957), American cleric, Dean of Guildford (2013-)

Citations

  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  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)
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