Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Guillim, John

GUILLIM, JOHN (1565–1621), herald, born at Hereford, was the son of John Agilliam, or Gwyllim, of Westbury, Gloucestershire. His family was of Welsh extraction. John the younger was educated at the cathedral school, Hereford, and at a grammar school at Oxford. He matriculated (probably as a scholar from the former school) at Brasenose College, Oxford, 3 Nov. 1581. The entry in the books of the university is 'Gwyllam, John. Heref. pleb. fil. aged 16.' Soon after leaving Oxford he was called to London and made a member of the College of Arms. Afterwards (20 Feb. 1618-19) he was appointed Rouge Croix pursuivant at arms. He was a master of the Latin and French languages, and published in 1610 the book which has made him famous—'A Display of Heraldrie,' in folio, with a dedication to James I. John Davies of Hereford, William Belchier, father of Daubridgcourt Belchier [q. v.], and Sir William Segar, Garter king of arms, prefixed complimentary poems. The 'Display' went through many editions. There are eight in the British Museum. To the second edition (1632) is appended R. Mab's 'Termes of Hawking and Hunting;' the third has additions by Sir R. St. George (1638); the fourth is 'corrected and much enlarged,' 1660; the fifth and sixth are dated respectively 1664 and 1666. A later edition, also calling itself 'the fifth' (published in 1679 and dedicated to Charles II), contains 'A Treatise of Honour, Military and Civil, by Captain Loggan,' with hundreds of engravings of arms and many full-length portraits, some after Vandyck. This last edition was reprinted as 'the sixth in 1724. The 'Treatise of Honor',' by Loggan, according to Wood, was written by Richard Blome [q. v.] 'a most impudent person,' who published the editions of 1660 and 1679.

Guilliam has indeed systematised and illustrated the whole science of heraldry. Fuller says that he was the first to methodise heraldry, but suspected that his efforts met with no great success. He quaintly but truly describes the 'Display' as 'noting the natures of all Creatures given in Armes, joining fansie and reason therein. Besides his Travelling all over the earth in beasts, his Industrie diggeth into the ground in pursuit of the properties of precious stones, diveth into the Water in Inquest of the qualities of Fishes, flyeth into the air after the Nature of Birds, yea, mounteth to the verie Skies about stars (but here we must call them Estoiles), and Planets, their use and influence,'

It has often been held that the credit of writing the 'Display' is really due to John Barkham [q. v.], and it is asserted that he gave the manuscript to Guillim and allowed him to publish the book in his own name, as heraldry was deemed too light a subject for him to handle. Guillim is said to have done this after making very trivial alterations. Sir W. Dugdale seems to have been the first who held this view. He wrote to Wood that Guillim was not the real author of the book, and Wood espoused this belief. From an inspection of Guillim's own manuscript, however, Ballard remarks that the charge is unjust, and Bliss, in his edition of Wood, is of the same opinion. Moule doubts whether Guillim ever received Barkham's manuscript, as the book is evidently not the production of a young man. Probably Burkham merely supplied him with some notes. S. Kent published in 1726 an abridgment of Guillim in two octavo volumes, called 'The Banner Diaplay'd.'

Guillim died 7 May 1621, it is generally supposed at Minsterworth, but there is no record of his burial there, nor in the church of St. Benet, Hythe, where many members of the College of Heralds lie. His own arms were argent, a lion rampant, ermine, collared of the first.

[Oxf. Univ. Reg. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 98; Noble's College of Arms, p. 216; Fullar's Worthies (Herefordshire); Duncumb's Herefordshire; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 297; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. ii. 956; Moule's Bibliotheca Heraldica, pp.72, 116, 319; Brydges's Censura Literaria, iii. 95, 96; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. vi. 10, 403, vii. 180, viii. 17.]

M. G. W.