The Gwillym (Gwillim, Guillim, Guillym, Gwyllim) family history

Bibliographic accounts

The Herefordshire Archive and Records Centre holds a record described as Herefs (Langstone, Llangarron, etc) deeds and estate papers and Gwillym family papers, dated 1565-18th cent, which I have not yet examined. i  What follows is based on other sources.   But the work of Victorian authors such as the Revd Charles Robinson (The Mansions of Herefordshire etc) and Sir Joseph Bradney (History of Monmouthshire) is not always accurate and primary sources need to be consulted.

A History of the Mansions & Manors of Herefordshire, first published in 1872, says “LANGSTONE COURT … had long been the residence of the Guillym family.   Thomas Guillym (son of Thomas G. of Little Birch) m. Margaret, sister of Edw. Rawlyns of Kilreege, and settled at Llangarren in the reign of Elizabeth, where his descendants remained until the middle of the last century, when Robert Guillym, by his marriage with Elizabeth, d. and coh. of Atherton, became possessed of large estates in Lancashire.”  ii

A footnote adds: “The Guillims came from Fawley.   Thomas Guillym (second son of John of Fawley), settled at King's Caple, and by Eliz., d. and h. of Geo. Bayley of Birch, had Thomas Guillym of Little Birch (living 1634).   He m. Mary, d. of John Hereford of Walford, and left two sons, the younger of whom, Thomas Guillym, settled at Llangarren.   He was succeeded by his eld. Son, William, who d. 28 April, 1698, leaving by his wife, Benedicta, d. of W. Hoskyns of Bernithan, three sons:-1. Thos. Guillym, m. Eliz., d. of W. Matthews of the Postles, in Kington; 2. William; 3. James.   The second son eventually had Langstone, and d. 4 Feb., 1706, leaving (by Eliz., d. and coh. of Robert Kyrle of Walford a son, Robert, who mar. Jane, only d. of Rob. Symonds of Sugwas.   He d. 28 Nov., 1750, and was succeeded by Robert Gwillym, who m. Eliz., d. and h. of Atherton of Atherton.   Their son, Robert Vernon Atherton, had (with a son o.s.p.) three daus., the eldest of whom mar. Thomas Powys, Lord Lilford.”

Robinson says that “FAWLEY, a chapelry of Fownhope, belonged to the Gwillims in the sixteenth century, and the Court was probably erected by Thomas Gwillim, who died s.p., in 1604, seised of the manors of Fawley and Strangford.” iii  His heirs were his sisters and Fawley was eventually sold to Sir John Kyrle. Thomas was the son of Mary Burghill, who had been married to William Scudamore II of Ballingham and with whom she had four children. When William died, some time before 4 November 1548, she married again to John Guillim of Fawley (the eldest son of John of Fawley) and had seven more children, Thomas, Joan, Jane, Anne, Mary, Alyce and Sybell. iv   There is a biography of Thomas' grandfather John of Fawley on The History of Parliament website. v This confirms that Thomas built Fawley Court. A 1998 PhD thesis on The Yeomen of the King's Guard 1485-1547, where John's name is given as John ap Guilliam, adds much more detail about his life. vi 

Mary Andere says that “an old document records that sometime at the beginning of the 16th century 'John Gwillim of Fawley, son of David Gwillim of Lewson in Llangarren, married Joan, daughter of Robert Powell of Whitchurch and had a daughter and heir who married Humphrey Baskerville, youngest brother of Sir James Baskerville of Eardisley'.  The Baskerville connection is discredited in John's biograpy mentioned above.   And Bradney's History of Monmouthshire records that 'Old Court in Whitchurch belonged to the Powell family and was inherited by Rudhall Gwillim, whose son Richard Gwillim was born in 1629', Rudhall being the son of Thomas and Barbara Gwillim”. vii   She also records that “In Cooke's Visitation of Hereford, 1569, Lewson [now Lewstone] is mentioned as being owned by David Gwillim, son of Hopkin”. viii

Robinson describes the Old Court in Whitchurch as “the ancient seat of the Gwillims, who acquired it by marriage with the heiress of Powell in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.” ix  A footnote adds: “Thomas Gwillym, 3rd son of Will. Gwillym of Trepencenant in St. Weonard's, m. Barbara, d. and coh. of Walter Powell of Whitchurch”.

In her book Kings Caple in Archenfield Elizabeth Taylor says the ap Gwillyms had been living at Much Fawley at least since 1482.  The manor of Much Fawley had belonged to the Abbey of Llanthony Prima until Henry VIII seized all the monastic lands and had remained in the hands of the Crown until 1562, when Queen Elizabeth granted it to Blanche ap Harry, her Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber, for £942-2s-6d.  But Blanche did not mention it in her will, so she must have already sold it to the ap Gwillyms.  x

Taylor also says: “The Gwillyms had spread into Kings Caple quite early in the 16th century, for in 1520 David ap Gwillim of Much Fawley left his Kings Caple lands to his younger son Thomas.  Thomas married the heiress of George Bailey of Little Birch [see Robertson's footnote above] and their eldest son inherited the Little Birch lands leaving their other son John Gwillym in Kings Caple.  Although John was the younger son of a younger son, he was still much higher up the social scale than anybody else and he and his sons were classed as gentlemen.”  xi

The Church Plate of the County of Hereford describes a Charles II silver gilt flagon (London hall mark 1683) which used to be at St Deinst's, Llangarren.   “On the face of the drum is a shield bearing the arms of Guillim-Sa, a horse's head erased or. betw. three gauntlets arg.   This has a mantling of ostrich plumes on either side.   Above the shield is inscribed "To the Parish of Llangarren", and underneath it, "the Guift of Thomas Guillim of Langston, Esqr., 1683."   A footnote says "Thomas Guillim (son of Thomas Guillim of Little Birch) settled at Llangarren in the reign of Elizabeth, where his descendants remained until the middle of the 19th century.   Langstone, their residence, was sold in 1794." xii  Which Thomas Guillim gave the flagon?   Queen Elizabeth died in 1603.   The Thomas who settled at Llangarren would have been very old in 1683.   Perhaps the flagon was a bequest after he died: or a gift from his son Thomas (if he existed, see below) or grandson Thomas.   Without more dates it's hard to know.

A depiction of the coat of arms of Guillim of Langstone Court is given in George Strong's The Heraldry of Herefordshire: Being a Collection of the Armorial Bearings of Families Which Have Been Seated in the County at Various Periods Down to the Present Time (London: Churton Press, 1848).   See here.

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     i  (return to text)
     ii    Robinson, C.J., A History of the Mansions & Manors of Herefordshire (originally published as The Mansions of Herefordshire and their Memories, 1872), Logaston Press, 2009, page 207  (return to text)
     iii   Ibid. page 136   (return to text)
     iv   Boaz, A.W., Specific Ancestral Lines of the Boaz, Paul, Welty & Fishel Families, Otter Bay Books, Baltimore, 2014, page 528 See Mary Burghill  (return to text)
     v    Bindoff, S.T., The House of Commons, 1509-1558, Secker & Warburg, 1982 page 269. Same text at   (return to text)
     vi     Hewerdine, A.R., The Yeomen of the King's Guard 1485-1547, 1998, pages 188-90 (online pages 199-201)  (return to text)
     vii   Andere, M., Homes and Houses in Herefordshire, Express Logic, Hereford, 1977, pages 43-44. Bradney, J.A., A History of Monmouthshire, Vol 1 Part 1, The Hundred of Skenfrith, Academy Books Limited, London, 1991, page 108: a Pedigree of the Family of Gwillim of Cillwch Fach, shows a Robert Gwillim of Tregate (son of Richard ap Gwilym of Tregate Castle in Llanrhyddol) marrying Joan, daughter to Robert Powell of Whitchurch.   This is likely to be a mistake as it contradicts the other records of her marrying John Gwillim of Fawley.  (return to text)
     viii    Ibid. page 42  (return to text)
     ix     Robinson, 2009, page 347  (return to text)
     x    Taylor, E., Kings Caple in Archenfield, Logaston Press, 2016, page 135  (return to text)
     xi   Ibid, pages 143-44   (return to text)
     xii   Scudamore Stanhope, B. and Moffat, H.C., The Church Plate of the County of Hereford, Jakeman & Carver, Hereford, 1903, pages 115-16  (return to text)