Updated March 15, 2016
For more than a century before the beginning of the Revolutionary War, British colonies in North America provided pensions for disabled soldiers and sailors. During and after the Revolutionary War, three principal types of pensions were provided by the U.S. Government for servicemen and their dependents. "Disability" or "invalid pensions" were awarded to servicemen for physical disabilities incurred in the line of duty; "service pensions," to veterans who served for specified periods of time; and "widows' pensions," to women whose husbands had been killed in the war or were veterans who had served for specified periods of time.
On August 26, 1776, the first pension legislation for the American colonies as a group was enacted. A resolution of the Continental Congress provided half pay for officers and enlisted men, including those on warships and armed vessels, who were disabled in the service of the United States and who were incapable of earning a living. The half pay was to continue for the duration of the disability.
On May 15, 1778, another resolution provided half pay for 7 years after the conclusion of the war to all military officers who remained in the Continental service to the end of the war. Enlisted men who continued to serve for the duration of the conflict were each to receive a gratuity of $80 after the war under the terms of the same enactment. The first national pension legislation for widows was a Continental Congress resolution of August 24, 1780, which offered the prospect of half pay for 7 years to widows and orphans of officers who met the requirements included in the terms of the resolution of May 15, 1778. On October 21, 1780, the Continental Congress resolution of May 15, 1778, was amended to provide half pay for life to officers after the war; but on March 22, 1783, the half-pay-for-life provision was changed to 5 years' full pay.
Pension legislation during the Revolutionary War was designed to encourage enlistment and acceptance of commissions and to prevent desertion and resignation. After the war, pensions became a form of reward for services rendered. Both during and after the Revolution, the States as well as the U.S. Government awarded pensions based on participation in the conflict. Public acts, under which the majority of such pensions were authorized, encompassed large classes of veterans or their dependents who met common eligibility requirements. Private acts concerned specific individuals whose special services or circumstances merited consideration, but who could not be awarded pensions under existing public acts.
Elizabeth GILLIAM Arthur, widow of James Arthur
Isaac GILLHAM S32270
Jacob GILLHAM (Gilham) S3397
John GILLHAM S32269
Archelaus GILLIAM S8567
John GILLIAM S6889
John GILLIAM W5282
John GILLIAM W8849
Jourdan GILLIAM R4037
Robert GILLAM W8848
William GILLUM R4036 1/2
Pensions that Mention GILLIAMs
Obadiah Johnson R5646 mentions James GILLIAM of Cumberland
John Rice S9064 served "in the County of Granville in a Company of militia commanded by Capt. William GILLIAM"
William Weaver S7863 states "he was drafted in a company of militia under Capt. William GILLIAM in Granville County for a tour of 3 months."
Isham Harrison W10089 "Said applicant lived in the County of Granville, State of North Carolina, and entered into the Militia service of the United States, under the command of Captain William GILLIAM"
[Isham Harrison married Amy GILLIAM, the daughter of William GILLIAM and Elizabeth Cheatham, his wife.]
- Southern Campaign Revolutionary War Pension Statements. www.southerncampaign.org