Surname Saturday: Gillions


This week’s Surname Saturday post takes a look at my Gillions family living in 18th Century rural Bedfordshire, England.

The earliest ancestor that I’ve located was my Great Great Great Great Great Paternal Grandfather, William Gillings, born in about 1730 at Dunton, Bedfordshire. He appears to have been the son of John and Mary Gillings, and the oldest child of three – although his two younger siblings (Sarah – 1732, and John – 1734) were baptised in nearby Wrestlingworth.

Gillions in Wrestlingworth, Bedfordshire

Wrestlingworth, Bedfordshire

Wrestlingworth parish church in Bedfordshire, was no stranger to my Gillions family.

William appears to marry Elizabeth Miller on 25th January 1763 at Wrestlingworth, when he was about 33 years old, and she was 32. The couple had at least 4 children – my Great x4 Grandmother Susan (often ‘Susannah’) in 1771, Elizabeth in 1771, Mary in 1774, and William in 1777. Sadly, Elizabeth died in 1780 at the age of about 49.

Three years later William walked the aisle again at Wrestlingworth to marry Sara Fielding on 16th September 1783. William was again widowed in 1807, and he followed Sara to the grave in 1810 at the age of 80.

My most recent ancestor being my Great x 4 Grandmother Susan Gillons, was baptised on 24th November 1771.

Heading to Gamlingay

Gamlingay parish church, Cambridgeshire

Gamlingay parish church – what led Edward and Susan to marry here in 1795?

She married Edward Gilbert on 2nd March 1795 at Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire – a village on the border of Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. There’s no indication as to why they married here, as I can’t see any other church records relating to this village. Neither were from this village (he was from Abbotsley, she being from Wrestlingworth), so perhaps they met here? Maybe their local church was undergoing repairs? Perhaps they didn’t get on with their local vicar? Perhaps they married here in secret and against their parents’ wishes? Further examination of the Gamlingay records will probably reveal more, or nothing else, leaving it purely to speculation of a BAFTA kind.

The couple had nine children -

  • Sarah bc.1795
  • George
  • Mary bc.1799
  • Elizabeth bc.1802
  • William bc.1803 (my Great x 3 Grandfather)
  • Ellen bc.1804
  • Eliza bc.1809
  • John bc.1813
  • Frances bc.1818

Living in poverty with a disability in 1851

With nine children, and Edward on a meagre labourer’s wage, the family fell on hard times. By 1851, and with their children grown up, Edward and Susan turn up with their second eldest married daughter Mary Cade in Abbotsley. Susan is noted as ‘blind’, as is her son-in-law Thomas Cade, whist Mary is noted as deaf.. leaving Edward aged about 77 and the only member of the household with his sight and hearing. Both he and Susan are unsurprisingly noted as ‘paupers’. Times must have been so hard for them.

Susan died in 1859, aged about 88. She’d outlived Edward, who had died in 1852.

Variants of Gillions surname

I’ve spotted that this surname has several spellings, and so it adds to the fun of locating my ancestors. These variants include:

  • Gillians
  • Gillions
  • Gillings
  • Jillings
  • Jullions

About Andrew Martin

+Andrew Martin is owner and lead writer for History Repeating and Family Tree UK. Genealogist, historian, writer, photographer and would-be archaeologist. He'd love a time machine, but worries that it might take all the fun out of it.
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4 Responses to Surname Saturday: Gillions

  1. Is the name pronounced with the soft G or the hard G?

    • I’m afraid that i don’t know, as i don’t have any living relatives with this name (or living memory of them) to check with, and it might have altered through time as well – hence the variants.

  2. I’ve come across Gilings and Jillings, and heard the Gillings with both hard and soft G. Further back in history, it’s usually with a J, which I suspect has significance.

  3. MarDee Adams says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I have spent the last few days searching the Gillings-Jillings- line in Bedfordshire and the John and Samuel Wheeler ( 1770-1837) line in Abbotsley. I have some information but want to find “documentation” to show that my information is right or wrong. I have found some of both. I don’t think it was by “chance” that I came across your blog, it was an answer to prayer. It was just the information I was trying to find just at that time. William and Elizabeth Miller Gillings are in the line of Elizabeth Gillings ( 1808 of Toseland, Huntingdonshire) who married John Wheeler Jr. from Graveley .Their daughter Mary married Abraham Chadwick my direct 3rd g grandfather. They came to America and came to Utah. I also have tried to find information on the line for Mary Fisher 1786 ? – 1843 from Eaton Socon, Bedfordshire. If you have any information along this line and could pass it on, I would be grateful. I live in Kansas and am trying to work on my Family History and straighten out “mistakes” etc, and make sure my information is the most correct that I can find.
    Again, thank you so much for this information — it made my day !
    To contact me you can e-mail me or I will try to start to follow the blog so as to not miss the information if you put it in here.

    Thank You MarDee

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