Gwillim History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Welsh name Gwillim 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 Gwillim family

The surname Gwillim 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]

Early History of the Gwillim family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gwillim research. Another 74 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1351, 1565 and 1621 are included under the topic Early Gwillim History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gwillim Spelling Variations

Compared to other ancient cultures found in the British Isles, the number of Welsh surnames are relatively few, but there are an inordinately large number of spelling variations. These spelling variations began almost as soon as surname usage became common. People could not specify how to spell their own names leaving the specific recording up to the individual scribe or priest. Those recorders would then spell the names as they heard them, causing many different variations. Later, many Welsh names were recorded in English. This transliteration process was extremely imprecise since the Brythonic Celtic language of the Welsh used many sounds the English language was not accustomed to. Finally, some variations occurred by the individual's design: a branch loyalty within a family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations were indicated by spelling variations of one's name. The Gwillim name over the years has been spelled Gwilliam, Gwuilliam, Guilliam, Gwilliams and others.

Early Notables of the Gwillim family (pre 1700)

Another 34 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gwillim Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Australia Gwillim migration to Australia +

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

Gwillim Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Evan Gwillim, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 27th April 1833, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [4]
  • Morgan Gwillim, aged 25, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Amazon"
  • David Gwillim, aged 32, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Amazon"

Contemporary Notables of the name Gwillim (post 1700) +

  • Elizabeth Posthuma Gwillim (1762-1850), maiden name of Elizabeth Simcoe, English-born, Canadian artist and diarist, wife of John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada
  • Lady Elizabeth Gwillim (1763-1807), British wildlife bird artist
  • David Gwillim (b. 1948), English actor, best known for playing Prince Hal in the BBC Television Shakespeare adaptations, son of Jack Gwillim
  • Jack William Frederick Gwillim (1909-2001), English character actor
  • Gareth Stuart Gwillim (b. 1983), English professional footballer


  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)
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas


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