This interesting surname is derived from the Norman form of an Old French personal name Giullaume coming from the Germanic given name Willheim composed of the elements "wil" meaning "will" or "desire" plus "helm" "helmet" or "protection". The surname dates back to the late 13th Century (see below). Further recordings include Arnold Gilleme (1283), "Calendar of Letter Books of London" and William Giliam (1379), "The Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire". Variations in the idiom of the spelling include Gillam, Gillum, Gilham and Gyllam etc. Dorothy Gillam, daughter of Robert was christened on May 16th 1602 at St. Giles, Cripplegate, London, and Sarah, daughter of John and Mary Gillham, was christened at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, on January 18th 1714. One Emanuell Gillham, an emigrant to Barbados, was recorded as a landowner in the parish of St. Thomas in 1679. A Coat of Arms granted to the Gillam family is a silver shield with a red savage holding a green club over the shoulder, the Crest being three savages' heads conjoined in one neck, one looking towards the dexter, the other the sinister, and one upwards proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Peter Gillame, which was dated 1276 - Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London, during the reign of King Edward 1, "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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