Born Winchester. Lost a leg in the Crimean War. Fellow Tottenhamite and brother-in-law to Peter Paul Marshall, one of the founders of William Morris's Firm. Gillum was an important patron of the Firm in the 1860s. And it was through Gillum that the Firm recruited several youths from the Boys Home in Euston Road to work in Red Lion Square.
William James Gillum was born on 24 April 1827 in Winchester, Hampshire, the son of Widgwood and Sarah Gillum. He was baptised on 6 May 1827 at St. Bartholomew's Church, Hyde, Winchester and was educated at Midhurst School.
The 1851 census shows him as a "Lieutenant in 'The Royals' Regiment", visiting the home of his uncle and aunt, Robert William and Susan Frances Gillum at New Road, Littleham, Exmouth, Devon. His uncle was a retired Major in the Honourable East India Company.
He was a Captain and Brevet Major, serving in the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Royal Regiment of Foot (Royal Scots) from 22 April 1855, service that included the siege and fall of Sebastopol (now called Sevastopol in Ukraine de Jure but Russia de facto) and was awarded the Crimean Medal with the Sebastopol clasp. He was also one of the 400 officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the British Army engaged in the Crimean War who were selected to receive the Sardinian War Medal for Military Valour, presented by His Majesty King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia. His citation read ''Rendered constant, zealous and efficient service in the Trenches before Sebastopol, from the 22nd April to the 8th September 1855, on which day during the Attack on the Redan he was severely wounded (lost a leg)". He also received the Turkish Crimea Medal issued by Sultan Abdulmecid I of the Ottoman Empire. He was brought back to England to recuperate.
Subsequently he seems to have moved in artistic circles, being a founder member of the Hogarth Club and associated with the Working Men's Club. He was introduced to Dante Gabriel Rossetti by Robert Browning and had painting lessons with Ford Maddox Brown. He was a patron of the Pre-Raphaelite group and it was the architect Philip Webb who designed the house he had built at East Barnet on part of the estate he had bought for the Boys' Farm Home, as well as additional buildings for the school. See also the Worship Street workshops.
On 13 November 1860 at Christ Church, Albany Street, Camden, he married Leonora Georgiana Bell (1827-1914), the sister of George William Bell. Prior to her marriage Leonora had been involved with another brother, Frederick Hayley Bell, in the running of a home in Hounslow for the same association for helping soldiers' children, of which George William was secretary. By the 1860s he had become not only a patron of the arts, but also a philanthropist and benefactor of the poor in London. In 1860 he bought Church Farm at Barnet in Hertfordshire for use as a school for poor London boys of good character, where they were educated and taught a trade. Leonora Gillum took a very active role in the Boys' Farm Home and was responsible for keeping in touch with the old boys.
The 1861 census shows him as a 'Major in the Army on half pay', living at the Moated House, Tottenham, with his wife, a footman, a cook, two housemaids, a gardener, the gardener's wife and child.
In the 1871 census he is recorded as a 'Lieutenant Colonel - Unattached', living at Church Hill House, East Barnet, with his wife and a cook.
The London Gazette of 30 September 1881 lists him as Major and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel William James Gilliam, unattached, as being an officer on half-pay and ineligible to be restored to full-pay, was placed on the Retired List on 1 July 1881.
The 1891 census states that he was a 'Colonel in H.M. Army Retired', living at Church Hill House, East Barnet Road, East Barnet, with his wife, a butler, a housekeeper, a parlour maid, a housemaid and a kitchen maid.
Leonora and William lived in East Barnet until 1895 when they moved to their home in central London, at 1 Pembridge Place. He was still on the management committee of Boy's Farm Home in 1908 and continued to take an interest in the home until his death. Probate records confirm he died, aged 83 years, on 21 November 1910 at home at 1 Pembridge Place, Bayswater and that when probate was granted on 10 December 1910 to Herbert Henry Mills, physician & Hebert Edward Foord, solicitor, his effects totalled £9.904-12s-3d.
He is also commemorated on a plaque on the south wall inside the Church of St Mary the Virgin, East Barnet.
Credit for this entry to: Andrew Behan