This research was obtained from Frank Tandy of
Wimborne, Curator of Wimborne Chained Library
The Primary School at Pamphill near Wimborne in Dorset was founded by
means of a bequest from the will of Roger Gillingham in 1698. I am not
related to any Gillingham families, but my grandchildren attended, and
still attend the school at Pamphill. With the advent of the school's 300th
anniversary - & still in the same building in 1998 - I was asked to look
at the school records & to transcribe "the Will".
It soon transpired that although there was a lot of information about Roger
Gillingham the question remained - who was Roger Gillingham & what was his
It has been said that his father could have been Richard Gillingham, a
minister at Wimborne Minster. It was thought so by Rev. F J Huyish, who
transcribed & printed the Wimborne parish registers in the parish magazine.
The Rev. Richard Gillingham's will soon showed this to have been a
misconception. So who was Roger Gillingham?
The starting point was "the Will". The Pamphill school's copy had been
obtained from the Dorset Record Office. This turned out to be incomplete
there being no mention of his bequest to the chained library in Wimborne
Minster. In fact the whole lengthy codicil, which contains more genealogical
information, was missing. The full copy of Roger Gillingham's will
(PCC:10 Bond 1698) in the Public Record Office contains names of some 100
relatives, friends, occupations & property. The will includes bequests to a
School in Luton; money to poor in Bethnal Green, Wimborne, and Cowgrove;
property in Blackfriers, Bethnal Green, Stepney, Denbigh, and Bedford. In
addition the will provides details for the foundation of a school &
almshouses to be built at Pamphill, near Wimborne.
His executors were to spend money, not exceeding four hundred pounds, in
enclosing grounds at Pamphill Green and building a School house with
accomodation for a School master who was to be a widower, or single person.
On each side of the school there were to be almshouses for "four poor
indigent men", and for "four poor indigent women". The occupants were to be
widowed, or "single persons never married".
The main benficiaries to the will were to raise £65 a year from rents
of land to pay to the schoolmaster & almspersons at Pamphill. However, there
were problems with payments of this bequest.
The 2nd edition of Hutchins "History of Dorset", in 1796 states that
"I am sorry to be obliged to add that this school and almshouse has for some
late years been shut up, occasioned by a law-suit between the governors
of the said school and almshouse and the representative of Mr Gillingham,
who refuses, under some dishonourable pretence or other, to fulfil this
The main beneficiary in the will of Roger Gillingham was his nephew Roger
Gillingham, a minor the son of the late John & Mary Gillingham. John had
been a grocer in Southampton. His widow, Mary, had married George Reekes of
Morden. The will makes provision for, and control of young Roger's education.
It seems likely that Roger Gillingham's mother was a member of the Pottell
family. In his will he refers to his cousin William Pottell in relation to
the education of Roger Gillingham (juior) and his cousin Roger Bramble
"they being all of kin to him his father being my first cousin both by
father and mother's side." Both Roger Gillingham (junior) & Roger
Bramble were admitted to the Middle Temple on 22nd November 1695.
At that time the Inns of Court provided education to sons of individuals,
and not neccessarily only to those intending to practise law.
The younger Roger Gillingham, later of Sidney Sussex College Cambridge,
married Ann Wigmore the daughter of Gilbert Wigmore of Little Shelford in
Cambridge, and became rector of that parish.
It is apparant from his will & other records that Roger Gillingham had been
born in Cowgrove (near Pamphill), the 2nd son of Richard Gillingham, a
gentleman of Wimborne. His elder brother, Thomas a yeoman farmer, had
occupied land at Cowgrove, and The Middle Temple Inn of Court show that
Roger matriculated at All Souls College when aged 14 in 1640. He was
admitted to membership of the Middle Temple in November 1654, and called
to the Bar in June 1662.
Subsequently, he became: a Bencher, and a Treasurer (for 1694) of the
Middle Temple. Benchers constituted the Parliament, or governing body of
the Inn of Court. The Readers gave lectures, and traditionally a "feast"
for the benefit of fellow Middle Templars. The Treasurer was chief execitive
of the Inn during his one-year tenure.
The "Minutes of the Middle Temple Parliament" show that Roger was an active
member of the Inn. The Parliament nominated "Mr Gillingham" to membership of
several committees including the occasion on 16 June 1693 when he was
"to consider how the place where close stools are emptied may be amended,
to prevent the offence and ill scent to chambers over it".
According to the "Middle Temple Bench Book" Roger Gillingham died in
1695/96 (and was buried in the "Temple [Church] vault". However, there is
no record of any tombstone or memorial.
From his will we know that he owned property in: Dorset, Stepney (Bednal
Green), Bedfordshire, and in Cambridge. He had friends in high places,
relatives in Dorset (Thurborne, Bramble, Reekes, Pottell) & elsewhere.
He was married twice, but with no children (at least none surviving).
Who was Richard Gillingham - Roger's father?
Apart from the rather sparse records from the Parish Registers a number of
records exist that relate to the Gillinghams, and provide clues to the
identity, and relationships of Roger and Richard Gillingham.
A Survey of Kingston Lacy made in 1606 records a William Gillingham as a
free tenant who paid 23d rent for water course to his mill at Lake.
Wimborne is the only parish in Dorset where there is a body of governors.
A Charter [of Elizabeth 1 in 1562/3] provided for 1 governors who would
appoint priests & clerks to perform church services, and granted the
governors tithes to support these officials. The records of these payments
show John & Richard Gillingham in Cowgrove from 1611 and 1612.
In 1616: Richard Gillingham is recorded as making land in Cowgrove & Corfe
Mullen over to his brother William Gillingham.
Church warden's accounts: 1625 January Will of Richard Gillingham
Relatives Robert Gillingham, Henry (child) died, Margaret, Elizabeth,
children. Gross value £20.10.9. After debts £12.4.1
There are no Gillinghams listed in the Kingston Lacy estate rental for
Cowgrove in 1655, any members of the family who may have been present
would probably have been freeholders. However, a Richard Gillingham
is listed as a freeholder of meadow in Corfe Mullen.
In 1666 & 1667 Thomas & John Gillingham are shown as taking over payment
of the Cowgrove tithes. Possibly as a result of the death of a Richard
In 1670 & 1671 the Cowgrove tithe was paid by (Grace) the widow of Thomas
Gillingham until 1677 when the rents were paid by John Gillingham.
In 1691 the same tithes are shown as being paid by the widow of
John Gillingham. By 1693 the tithes were being paid by Roger Gillingham Esq.
In 1698 & 1699: the Abbotstreet tithe was paid by Roger Thurborne
The Wimborne Enclosure Award in 1786 shows Ann Gough (the daughter of Roger
Gillingham the younger) as being a freeholder.
Property in Cowgrove.
Thomas Gillingham died in 1669, and appointed Roger, his brother, to be an
executor of his will. From that will his daughter Ann inherited his
"dwelling house at Cowgrove & the barn there & the outhouse theare &
the garden & outhouse theare, & one acre of Arable land theare lying in
Brownes Croft & adjoining the orchard all aforesaid being part of my lands
for fourscoare & nineteen yeares to come after the day of her marriage or
from the time that she shall accomplish the age of one and twenty yeares"
A survey of the estate by William Woodward was commissioned by Henry Bankes
in 1773, shortly after he succeeded to the Kingston Lacy estate. The maps
contained in this survey, and the tithe maps made in about 1847 both show
the Brownes Croft mentioned in the will of Thomas Gillingham. It is possible
that this, now arable field, may have contained Roger's birthplace.
Where does Roger's family fit in a wider picture?
The 1851 Census includes 359 Gilinghams in Dorset. The 1881 Census includes
1343 Gillinghams in total, of whom 464 were born in Dorset (34%); 369 were
living in Dorset (27%); and 341 were both born & living in Dorset (25%).
While the 369 Gillinghams living in Dorset in 1881 was the highest for any
county, there were 163 in London & Middlesex, and 146 in Somerset. No other
county contained more than 80 Gillinghams.
An early interest in Gillingham families is shown by entries in "Somerset
& Dorset Notes & Queries" which provides information from several sources
A number of relevant Gillingham wills exist. However, trying to sort out
any connections & relationships is not easy. The task is rather like a
Jigsaw, except that several puzzles, each with pieces missing are all in one
box. The fact that information from parish registers is sparse does not help.