Chesterfield County | Gilliams of Virginia

GILLIAMs of Chesterfield County
Updated March 17, 2020

Chesterfield County was named for Philip Dormer Stanhope, fourth earl of Chesterfield, British statesman and diplomat, and was formed from Henrico County in 1749.  The county seat is Chesterfield. 

Dale Parish, 1749
King William Parish, 1749
Manchester Parish, 1772


"Violet Bank," Cemetery, Richmond Turnpike, Chesterfield County

To the memory of
Relict of
And daughter of
of Violet Bank Chesterfield County.
Born January 26, A. D. 1797,
Departed this life March 20, A. D. 1858

Are deposited the remains
Of Petersburg Va.
Born April 9th A.D. 1790
Departed this life August 15th A.D. 1843
In memory of the deceased
This tomb
Is erected by his afflicted wife

Patterson Family Cemetery
GILLIAM, Richard Clements LT
Chesterfield County Historical Society, Gravestone Inscriptions & Burials

GILLIAM-Bullington House
1712 Burford Road, Bon Air
Chesterfield County, VA

1815 Landowner's Directory
[Directions and distances are measured from the Courthouse.]
Ward, Roger G. 1815 Directory of Virginia Landowners (and Gazetteer) Volume 1, Central Region. Athens, GA: Iberian Pub. Co., 1997

15 Feb 1810
Married on Thursday the 15th inst., Mr. R. C. GILLIAM, to Miss Frances Patteson, daughter of Col. Patteson, all of Chesterfield County.
Visitor, p. 15, c. 3, Saturday, February 24, 1810.

15 Feb 1810
Married on Thursday the 15th inst., by Rev. John D. Blair, Mr. Richard C. Gillum, to Miss Frances Patteson, daughter of Col. David Patteson, all of Chesterfield.
Enquirer, p. 3, c. 5, Tuesday, February 27, 1810.

14 Feb 1823
Elizabeth Smith Shore of Violet Bank married 14 February 1823, 11 February (bond) 1823 Dr. John GILLIAM.

War of 1812
Richard C. GILLIAM, 33rd Regiment (Aug-Sep 1814), Virginia Militia
Richard C. GILLIAM, 33rd Regiment (Mayo's) Virginia Militia

15 Aug 1843,
“The deceased possessed intellectual accomplishments of no ordinary character.”
Richmond Enquirer, September 1, 1843, page 3, column 6.

15 Aug 1843
Died, on Tuesday last, in his 54th year, Dr. John GILLIAM (son of the late Dr. James Skelton GILLIAM, and old inhabitant of Petersburg.
Richmond Whig & Public Advertiser, p. 2, c. 6, Friday, August 25, 1843.

15 Aug 1843
Died on the 15th ult at Violet Bank, Dr. John GILLIAM, the eldest son of the late Dr. James Skelton GILLIAM, of Petersburg, in the 54th year of his age. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, acted as dresser for 9 months at Giles Hospital, London, under sir Ashley Cooper in 1811, and practiced medicine for many years in Petersburg and adjacent counties. Leaves wife and six children.
Episcopal Recorder and Southern Churchman, 14 Sep 1843
Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly, "Obituary Notices: Watchman of the South" Volume XXVIII, Number 2, 1 May 1990.

29 Jun 1843
Died, Yesterday, Robert H. GILLIAM, in his 28th year. Survived by his mother, Mrs. Richard C. GILLIAM.
Richmond Whig & Public Advertiser, p. 1, c. 7, Friday, June 30, 1843
[Richard's mother is Frances Patteson GILLIAM.]

Violet Bank
Violet Bank is an architecturally sophisticated Federal-style plantation house, built on the banks of the Appomattox River in 1815. Noteworthy architectural features of this unusual one-story house include three-part bays, intricate woodwork and elaborate plaster ceilings. The plasterwork, some of the finest Federal plaster ornamentation in Virginia, is based on the designs of Asher Benjamin's American Builder's Companion (1806), an architectural pattern book widely used by Virginia builders. Asher Benjamin's designs also provided inspiration for detailing found nearby at Magnolia Grange and Battersea.
The first house at this site was built by Thomas Shore, burned shortly after construction, and was rebuilt by Shore's widow, Jane Grey, and her second husband Henry Haxall. The unusual three-part bays indicate that Shore may have been inspired by noted architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who visited Shore in 1796 during construction of the first house. Latrobe inspired the designs of several Richmond townhouses, that also feature three-part bays.

On February 14, 1823, Elizabeth Shore, the daughter of Thomas Shore of Violet Bank, in Chesterfield County, entered into an agreement prior to her marriage to John GILLIAM of Petersburg, in which she conveyed to Robert GILLIAM, Jr. and John Fitzhugh May, both of Petersburg, as Trustees, her interest in the property devised by Thomas Shore and inherited by her by reason of the death of her sister, Jane G. Shore.  The trustees were to hold this property for the life of John GILLIAM and then for the life of Elizabeth, with the power to sell only upon the written request of both Elizabeth and John.  Elizabeth retained the power to devise the property by her will and if not devised by her will, then it was specifically to be inherited by her rightful heirs.   This was the only protection a woman could provide for her separate property upon her marriage, as the Married Woman's Act had not yet been passed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The mere act of marriage gave a husband the right of ownership over all personal property and control and management of the real property.  Elizabeth was not blinded by love so as to forget to protect her interest, so she had, at least, joint control of her property.

And perhaps it was Elizabeth who pressed the law suit.  At any rate John GILLIAM and William Shippen, joined by their wives, brought suit against Executors of the Haxalls who were sureties on the bond given when the insurance money was paid to Jane Shore Haxall. Their suit alleged that the condition of the bond had been the payment to Elizabeth and Louisa of the sum of $7,833 immediately upon the death of Mrs. Haxall, that the money had not been paid, and that they as the lawful husbands of the two beneficiaries under the bond were entitled to the money.  In vain, the defendants argued that the money had been used to rebuild Violet Bank and that the two girls had inherited the house upon their mother's death—in fact, Elizabeth had lived there all along—but the court read the bond literally, and ruled that the Haxalls must pay the sum claimed.  (Haxall's Executors vs. Shippen and Wife and Others, December 1839, Virginia Reports, 10 Leigh 536.)   The court pointed out that the two husbands had no more than a courtesy interest in the house itself, but were entitled as husbands, to the money due their wives on the bond.
Elizabeth and John GILLIAM had six children, three daughters, Jane G., Elizabeth S. and Mary Louisa, and three sons, James, Theophilus and Thomas.  At the time of Elizabeth GILLIAM's death in 1858, the three girls were unmarried and living at home.  To these three girls she left what she had always considered her greatest security, Violet Bank with all carriages, furniture and furnishings.  James GILLIAM was a Navy doctor, and in his mother's will she returned to him the set of china which he had brought to her from India.  Thomas GILLIAM was the businessman of the family, and to him went the two tobacco plantations - Arrowfield in Chesterfield County and another plantation in Dinwiddie County.  Little is known of Theophilus, except that he lived in Petersburg at the time of his mother's death.  Since no mention is made of John GILLIAM, it is presumed that he predeceased his wife.
The businessman of the family, Thomas, then decided that the best way to help his sisters was to have them deed the farm to him, and he in exchange gave a deed of trust to John Pegram May and his brother, Theophilus F. GILLIAM, as Trustees for the three girls, to secure the purchase price of $15,000.  Of course, this meant that Thomas took title to Violet Bank without actually paying any cash for it, but it also protected the girls from fortune hunters, and we have no way of knowing but what he may have been financially responsible for the girls during the years they lived at Violet Bank.  At any rate, this deed was executed in 1859, but was not placed of record until 1866.  Since this deed is closely followed on the record by a deed from Thomas GILLIAM to Richmond & Petersburg Railroad Company for a piece of the meadow land along the river, it was probably necessary to record it in order to create a clear title and collect the $1,500 paid by the railroad, money which the GILLIAM family apparently needed at that time.
General Robert E. Lee used the house for his headquarters from June through November of 1864 and was in residence when he learned of the explosion created by Union forces that resulted in a 135-foot wide crater and killed around 300 Confederate soldiers, part of the long siege of Petersburg. Following the Civil War, Violet Bank was repeatedly subdivided until it was reduced to a single lot in 1919.
Today Violet Bank houses a Civil War museum and has been furnished with furniture typical of its period by the Colonial Heights Federated Women's Club.
[Violet Bank is located at 303 Virginia Ave. east of U.S. Rte. 1 in Colonial Heights.]

Wills, Estates and Inventories
4 Aug 1756
Will of Samuel Butler of Henrico County
To wife Mary all of estate for widowhood, and if dies without heirs of her body, to my sister in law Judah Butler
If wife marries, estate goes to my three brothers Thomas Butler, Isaac Butler, and Rubin Butler, equally. The rest to my brothers and sisters
Executors: John Archer of Chesterfield and brother Thomas
Dated 4 Aug. 1756
Wit: Ezekiel Slaughter, John GILLUM, Sarah GILLUM
Weisiger, Benjamin B. Wills, 1749-1774, page 232
Chesterfield County, VA, Will Book ___, page 232

4 Feb 1757
Will of Samuel Butler
presented by John Archer and Thomas Butler, Executors, and proved by Ezekiel Slaughter and John GILLUM. Executors refuse to act, and Mary Butler, the widow, granted administration. John Knibb, Thomas Stratton, William Womack and Matthew Ligon to appraise estate.
Weisiger, Benjamin B. Wills, 1749-1774, page 260
Chesterfield County, VA, Will Book ___, page 260

4 Sep 1757
Will of John Bolling of Dale Parish Henrico County, Gent.
To wife Elizabeth, all my land in Henrico and Chesterfield, except at Point where John Boiling's Inspection Houses are; use of negroes; also my plantation "Bollings Island" in Goochland Co. against Rock Castle low grounds, also all household stocks
To son Thomas, all my land in Goochland called "Licking Hole" and 2 acres in fork of said creek below Alexander Logan's
To son John, rest of Licking Hole tract, below said creek and my mill on Beaver Dam Creek in Goochland and lands on said creek; also at death of my wife, all my lands on north side of James River in Henrico, and one tract on south side called "Rogsdale", joining Henry Batte and Edward Folks
To son Robert, all my land at Willises Creek and at Totere or near the Seven Islands, and tract above Dugads and all my entries on Rock Island Creek, all in Albemarle County
To son Edward, my land in Lunenburgh Co., on head branch of Falling River, 2000 acres, also land on Roanoke River on Butchers Creek and all lands on south side of James River and north side of Appomatox not before given, and my land called "John Bolling's Inspection" at the Point,
all at age 21; also my land called "Buffalo Lick" on both sides of James River, and entries not patented, above Possum Creek
To daughter Mary Bolling, enough money to make the legacy given her by her aunt Anne Whitting to amount to #500, at 21 or marriage
To daughter Sarah Bolling, same
Son Thomas to renounce legacy given to him or his brothers mentioned therein, now dead by his aunt Anne Whiting, or else he to pay his sisters their legacies from Anne Whiting
Executors: friend Peter Randolph, Esq. and my son Thomas, when he becomes 21.
Peter Randolph to be guardian of my sons and my wife guardian to my daughters
Dated 4 Sept. 1749
Wit: William Kennon, Jr., Robert Goldie, John GILLIAM, Jr.
To son Archibald Bolling, 1200 acres in Bedford Co. on branch of Rock Island Creek to Otter River
To my nephew Boiling Eldridge, 400 acres next to above
To friend John Childers, at Willis Mountain in Albemarle Co., 400 acres
To friend Richard Taylor, 400 acres on Slate River in Albemarle Co.
Also to son Archibald, my tract called "Buffalo Lick" formerly given to son Edward, formerly in Albemarle and now in Bedford Co.
Son Archibald to share in division of slaves
Dated 4 Sept. 1757
Wit; Alexander Bolling, John Bannister, Thos. Fleming
Weisiger, Benjamin B. Wills, 1749-1774, page 262
[It should be noted that "Friend Richard Taylor" of Slate River, is the father of Samuel Taylor whose family married into the James GILLIAM, Sr., family of Cumberland County.]

17 Jun 1769
Will of Henry Randolph
To son John, my land called "the old plantation", 1000 acres, where I live
To son William, my land called "Rich Neck"
All my lands in Amelia, divided equally between my sons Peter and Thomas
Slaves and personal estate equally among my children
To sons Robert and Richard, £500 each
Executors wife and son John, Major Peter Poythress, John GILLIAM, Sr., and John GILLIAM, Jr.
Dated 17 June 1769
Wit: Henry Featherstone, William Dyson, John Ratlief
Chesterfield County, VA, Will Book 2, page 6
Weisiger, Benjamin B. Wills, 1749-1774, page 6

Henry Randolph, decd. Will of,
Gives to his son John Randolph 1000 acres called "Plantation" on which testator lives. Gives William Randolph , land called Rich Neck. Gives sons Peter Randolph and Thomas Randolph all of his lands in Amelia Co. equally. Gives son Robert Randolph £500. Gives son Richard Randolph £500. Gives to all of his children his personal property & slaves equally. Directs that his unmarried children shall be maintained out of the profits of his estate.
Executrix, his wife, Executors Major Peter Poythrus, John GILLIAM, Senior, John GILLIAM, Jr.
Witnesses, Henry Featherstone, Wm. Dyson, John Ratcliffe.
Dated: June 17, 1769.
Chesterfield County, VA, Will Book 2, page 6. Valentine Papers (Virginia), Vol. 1-4, 1864-1908. [database online] Provo, UT:, 2001. Original data: Edward P. Valentine, The Edward Pleasants Valentine Papers, Vol. 1-4, 1864-1908. Richmond, VA: The Valentine Museum.

27 Jan 1807
Will of Charles Duncan of Chesterfield County
To my dau. Nancy GILLIAM Dunlap and her husband James Dunlap all my lands or farm called Roslin which I purchased from Archibald Batting, William Thompson and Drury Ragsdale, negroes, horses, etc., on condition they pay my daughter Charlotte Smith Gamble £3,000 upon their getting possession, and they return to VA within 7 years.
In case my daughter Nancy G, and son in law James Dunlap or either of them not choosing to accept these lands and negroes on those conditions, I give my afsd. land called Roslin to my dau. Charlotte Smith Gamble and her husband John G. Gamble, and all my negroes not hereafter disposed of, and my horses, etc. on condition they pay my dau. Nancy GILLIAM Dunlap £4,000 on their getting possession of Roslin, £1,000 of which already paid to Jno. G. Gamble; in case my dau. Charlotte Smith Gamble or son-in-law John G. Gamble not choosing to accept Roslin etc. on these terms, then the land and negroes except those particularly bequeathed, the stock, etc., should be sold, £1,000 to be paid James Dunlap in lieu of so much paid John G. Gamble, and the remainder equally divided between my daus. Nancy GILLIAM Dunlap and Charlotte Smith Gamble.
To my son-in-law James Dunlap and my dau. Nancy G. Dunlap my negro woman Cross? and her five children Ann Eliza, Cecelia, Zach, Burwell, and James, my negro woman Betty and her child, my negro ship carpenter David Johnston; and their increase.
To my son-in-law John G. Gamble and my dau. Charlotte Smith Gamble my negro ship carpenter Charles, my negro man Pully? Short and his wife Anne, their children Willie and Peter, my negro woman Sally, my mulatto woman Eloise? Joan?; and their increase.
To Charles Macindoe? £100 when he becomes of age to set him up in his business. £100 sterling to the Minister andreldew? of the parish of Strathblam in Co. Sterling in Scotland. Emancipate my mulatto woman Shatlee and her child Jean and their future increase; if they wish to leave the state and if VA law will not let them, then I leave them to either of my daughters they may wish to live with. Residue of my estate including my stock in the Bank of VA, the loan office, the Commercial Insurance of Norfolk, my shares in the Appomattox Canal, and in the Lower Appamattox Co. and whatever may be due me by Dinwiddie Crawford & Co. and Duncan & Trumbull or any other, be equally divided between my daughters Nancy GILLIAM Dunlap and Charlotte Smith Gamble. I own two lots in Blandford Hill which if not disposed of in my lifetime, I leave to be divided between my two sons in law James Dunlap and John G. Gamble.
Appoint my sons in law James Dunlap and John G. Gamble, my friends Donald MacKenzie, John Dunlap and Robert Gamble Jr., merchants, executors of my will. I forgot to mention that the organ and pianna that was Eliza's may be sent to my dau. Charlotte Smith Gamble, and my furniture may be sold.
Signed: Charles Duncan.
Codicil: As my dau. Charlotte Smith Gamble is going to England with me, my organ and pianno may be sold, but if it will not sell for its value, it may remain for my dau. Charlotte Smith Gamble till her return.
Signed Charles Duncan.
Proved 13 June 1808, on oaths that it was Charles Duncan's handwriting, by William Clarke, John T. May and Roger Atkinson.
Chesterfield County, VA, Will Book, 7, pages 45-48
[Charles Duncan married Jane (Jennie) GILLIAM, daughter of John GILLIAM, the Elder]

  • Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly, Marriage and Death Notices from "The Visitor" Volume VII, Number 1 (01-JAN-1969).
  • Ward, Roger G. 1815 Directory of Virginia Landowners (and Gazetteer) Volume 1, Central Region. Athens, GA: Iberian Pub. Co., 1997
  • Weisiger, Benjamin B. Chesterfield County Virginia Wills, 1749-1774, [Richmond, VA]: Weisiger, 1988, 1979.
  • Weisiger, Benjamin B. Chesterfield County, Virginia, wills, 1774-1802 Athens, GA : Iberian Pub. Co., 1992