Robert Gilliam | Gilliams of Virginia

Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography
by Lyon Gardiner Tyler
Updated March 18, 2016

The five-volume Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography is a collection of biographical sketches of thousands of Virginians who lived between the early seventeenth century and the twentieth century. Covering the entire spectrum of colonial, Revolutionary, and post-Revolutionary figures, the Encyclopedia treats the following personages: founders, immigrants, and early settlers, state councillors and burgesses, landowners, merchants, Revolutionary War figures, governors, justices, politicians, military and naval figures, and a host of prominent nineteenth-century personalities, including bankers, statesmen, farmers, professionals, businessmen, and Civil War soldiers.

The first two volumes concentrate mostly on Virginia men of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, while the last three volumes deal primarily with nineteenth-century figures--in somewhat greater detail than the earlier volumes. All sketches identify the place and date of birth of the subject, and wherever possible his parents and early antecedents, all the way back to the immigrant ancestor. Typically the sketches provide details of the subject's education and career, information about his wife and children, and highlights of his life and times.


Robert GILLIAM of Petersburg, one of the leading attorneys of Virginia, belongs to an old family of this state, which was conspicuous during the days of the revolution. His grandfather, John GILLIAM, was a native of Prince George county, where he was a planter, and was lieutenant of the Prince George Cavalry during the revolution, being present at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. His wife, Hannah (Sampson) GILLIAM, came from Perth, Scotland, and they were the parents of a large family. Their son, Robert GILLIAM, born September 17, 1796, in New Kent county, Virginia, always resided in Prince George county, except from 1861 to 1865, when he lived in Richmond. Returning to Prince George county, he was elected clerk of the court, and died July 5, 1884, in his eighty-eighth year. Up to the time of his death he had lived during the lifetime of every United States president. He married Charlotte Isabella Sanxay, a native of Richmond, who died in the winter of 1904, aged eighty-five years. She was a daughter of Richard D. Sanxay, who was born in England, and was a book merchant of Richmond, living to the age of eighty-five years. He married Emily Gordon, and they had a large family, of whom are now living: Sophia Gohmert, residing at San Antonio, Texas, and Rosalie Morris, of Petersburg.

Robert GILLIAM and wife were the parents of eleven children, ten of whom are now living, namely: 1. Mary E., widow of William D. Porter, who was a nephew of Commodore Porter of the United States navy; she resides in Petersburg. 2. Lucy Skelton, widow of George W. Tennent, formerly of the United States navy, afterwards of the Confederate States navy; she lives in the city of Mexico. 3. Emily G., who married Francis E. Hall, and is now deceased. 4. Charlotte Isabella, unmarried, residing in Petersburg. 5. Robert, of further mention. 6. John, a resident of New York City. 7. Eliza, widow of Robert Carter Braxton, residing in Farmville, Virginia. 8. Sophia, widow of David E. Bowden, of Prince George county, Virginia. 9. Ellen, residing, unmarried, in the city of Mexico. 10. Richard Davenport, an attorney of Petersburg. 11. Charles Macalister, manager of the Petersburg Telephone Company.

Robert (2) GILLIAM, eldest son of Robert (1) and Charlotte Isabella (Sanxay) GILLIAM, was born January 27, 1847, in Prince George county, Virginia, and resided there until 1861, when he moved with his parents to Richmond. He was educated under a governess and at Zimmer's School, at City Point, Virginia, and in Prince George county. He was in his fifteenth year when he came to Richmond, and at once became a messenger in the Confederate treasury department, rising to the position of assistant cashier, receiving at the age of seventeen years a salary of fifty-five hundred dollars in Confederate money. He was one of the most rapid and expert counters of money in the service. After residing for a short time in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1869 he was made clerk of the court of Prince George county, continuing in that office until 1874, when he removed to Petersburg, and soon after, entered upon practice of the law. In 1888 he was elected clerk of the court, and filled that position until February 1, 1915, since which date he has been engaged in the general practice of law at Petersburg, with an office at 420 Mechanics Building. Mr. GILLIAM was a member of Company G, Department Battalion forces of local defence; was in engagements near Portsmouth, in which General Dalghren's raid was repelled. Mr. GILLIAM is a communicant of the Episcopal church, and is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

He married (first) October 24, 1876, in Petersburg, Sue T. Beckwith, daughter of Dr. T. S. Beckwith, of Petersburg. She died July, 1877, without issue, and he married (second) April 29, 1879, Mary Love Bragg, daughter of Governor Bragg, of North Carolina, who was also a United States senator in 1867, and afterward attorney general of the Confederate States, and died in 1873. Her mother, Isabella (Cuthbert) Bragg, died in 1877. Of the eight children of Mr. and Mrs. Robert GILLIAM, two died in infancy. The living are: 1. Isabella Cuthbert, wife of Dr. W. H. Crockford, of Petersburg. 2. Robert Jr., born October 6, 1881, a lawyer of that city; graduate Richmond College, class of 1903, B. L. degree; married, November 26, 1912, Grizzelle Mullen, daughter of Judge J. M. Mullen, of Petersburg, Virginia; member of Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, past exalted ruler of Lodge No. 237, Petersburg; past worthy president of Fraternal Order of Eagles; member of Order of Moose; member house of delegates of Virginia, 1912; member of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. 3. Thomas Bragg, a mechanical engineer, residing in Cincinnati, Ohio. 4. Herbert Bragg, B. A., B. L., born April 30, 1887; an attorney of Petersburg; member of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. 5. Mary Love, wife of William R. Young, of Greenville, Mississippi. 6. Charlotte, a graduate, A. B., of Randolph-Macon Woman's College, unmarried.

  • Virginia Biographical Encyclopedia [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2000. Original data: Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. Richmond, VA, USA: n.p., 1915.
  • Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, Richmond, VA, 1915.