The surname of GILLINGHAM was a locational name meaning one who came from 'Gillingham in Dorset'. The name was originally rendered in the Old English form GYLLAM, literally meaning the dweller at the settlement belonging to GYLLA. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. The earliest of the name on record appears to be GILLINGHAM (without surname) who was recorded in the year 1016 and GELINGHAM (without surname) was listed in the year 1086 in the Domesday Book. The Norman Conquest in England in the year of 1066 revolutionized our personal nomenclature. The old English name system was gradually broken up and old English names became less common and were replaced by new names from the continent. Most of the early documents deal with the upper classes who realised that an additional name added prestige and practical advantage to their status. Names of peasants rarely occurred in medieval documents. In 1086 the compilation of the Domesday Book was ordered by William the Conqueror (1027-87), king of England from 1066. He was born in Falaise, the bastard son of Robert, Duke of Normandy, by Arlette, a tanner's daughter. On his father's death in 1035, the nobles accepted him as a duke. When Edward the Confessor, King of England died in 1066, William invaded England that Autumn, on 14th October, 1066 killing Harold (who had assumed the title of King). English government under William assumed a more feudal aspect, the King's tenants-in-chief and all title to land was derived from his grants, and the Domesday Book contains details of the land settlements, and the names of the owners of such. Later instances include Richard de GILLINGHAM, 1300 County Somerset. William Lawrence married Betty GILLINGHAM at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1771.
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