Gwuilliam History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Welsh name Gwuilliam 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 Gwuilliam family

The surname Gwuilliam 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 Gwuilliam family

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

Gwuilliam Spelling Variations

There are relatively few surnames native to Wales, but they have an inordinately large number of spelling variations. Early variations of Welsh surnames can be explained by the fact that very few people in the early Middle Ages were literate. Priests and the few other literate people were responsible for recording names in official documents. And because most people could not specific how to properly record their names it was up to the individual recorder of that time to determine how a spoken name should be recorded. Variations due to the imprecise or improper recording of a name continued later in history when names originally composed in the Brythonic Celtic, language of Wales, known by natives as Cymraeg, were transliterated into English. Welsh names that were documented in English often changed dramatically since the native language of Wales, which was highly inflected, did not copy well. Occasionally, however, spelling variations were carried out according to an individual's specific design: a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations could be indicated by minor variations. The spelling variations of the name Gwuilliam have included Gwilliam, Gwuilliam, Guilliam, Gwilliams and others.

Early Notables of the Gwuilliam family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Gwuilliam family

North America in the 1800s and 1900s saw the arrival of many Welsh people hoping to share in the wealth of land, work, and freedom that they felt North America held. Those who made the journey often attained those expectations, but only through an enormous amount of hard work, perseverance, and often a bout of good luck. These immigrants helped contribute to the growth of industry, commerce, and culture of both Canada and the United States. Discovered in the immigration and passenger lists were a number of people bearing the name Gwuilliam: 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..



  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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