This interesting name is of Norman (French) origin, being one of the English forms of the French male personal name "Guillaume", better known as "William". The name was introduced into England by followers of William the Conqueror after the Invasion of 1066, and quickly became the most popular given name in the country, mainly in honour of the Conqueror himself, no doubt. A large number and variety of surnames were generated from William, which is itself derived from the Germanic name "Wilhelm", composed of the elements "wil", will, desire, and "helm", helmet, protection. The forms Gilham, Gillham, Gilliam, Gillam and Gillum all derive from the Old French "Guillaume". The surname was first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Arnold Gilleme (1283, London); William Giliam (1379, Yorkshire); and Robert Gylham (1524, Suffolk). Recordings from London Church Registers include the marriage of Elizabeth Gilham and Thomas Tyler at St. Martin's in the Fields, on April 9th 1676. The family Coat of Arms is on a silver shield 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, in the "Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "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.
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