Lt. William Frederick Anderson Gilfillan

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Lt. William Frederick Anderson Gilfillan

Birthdate: (59)
Birthplace: Elizabeth Castle, Jersey, Channel Islands
Death: September 4, 1855 (59)
Cradock, Stormberg District, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Place of Burial: Cradock, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Son of John Gilfillan, Lieutenant and Elizabeth Gilfillan
Husband of Anna Margaret Gilfillan
Father of William Thornhill Gilfillan; Frederick Mounsey Gilfillan; Maria Georgina Turner; Elizabeth Mary Greaves; Anna Frances Fisher and 10 others
Brother of John Alexander Gilfillan; Elizabeth Caroline Gilfillan; Adam Fleetwood Gilfillan, Snr. SV/PROG; Eleanor Jane Gilfillan; Hannah Gilfillan and 1 other

Occupation: ID NUMBER 19322
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Lt. William Frederick Anderson Gilfillan

Death Notice :


1820 Independent Settler to South Africa

Lieut William Gilfillan (half-pay, late 60th Regt), a brother of Adam Gilfillan, also lived at Thornhill after his marriage to Christopher Thornhill's daughter Anna. William Gilfillan did not, as is popularly supposed, emigrate with Thornhill's party; he landed in Cape Town from the Importer brig in March 1820, and applied for a grant of land by virtue of his seven years' army service at the Cape.

Appointed Resident Magistrate and Civil Commissioner of Cradock, Eastern Cape in 1837


The first Gilfillan to come to South Africa was William Frederick Anderson, second son of Lieutenant John Gilfillan and Elizabeth Bridges. He was born on January 27, 1796, at the time his father, Lt. John Gilfillan, of Major Grant's Company of Invalides, was in charge of the garrison of Elizabeth Castle, Jersey Island. Some weeks later, the second son of King George III of England, Prince William Frederick , Duke of York, who was Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, made a tour of inspection of Jersey Island and attended the christening of the new baby on February 20, 1796.

There is a story in the family that the Duke agreed to be a godfather and as a christening present, gave the baby a commission in the Duke of York's Own Rifles which afterward became the 60th Rifles Regiment. Certainly the boy was to bear the names of William Frederick after the Duke of York and Anderson after another godfather, Major Robert Anderson. In 1812, at the age of 16, William came to South Africa as an ensign with his regiment, the 60th Rifles, and returned to England with the regiment at the end of 1818. South Africa evidently had attractions for William and on November 4, 1819, when residing in Regent Street, Westminster, London, he applied to the Secretary of State for Colonies for a free passage in one of the transport ships about to convey English settlers to the Cape.

His letter reads as follows: Sir I, having served for many years in the frontier of the Cape of Good Hope as an officer in the Army, since when I have been placed on half pay , and being desirous of returning to the Cape to settle in the interior, for which my funds are altogether inadequate, I beg you may be graciously pleased to grant me a passage with the settlers now on the point of going. I have the honour to be, etc. W. Gilfillan, H. P. Lieutenant 60th Regiment. The request was granted and so William and his younger brother Adam left England and their family for ever. Adam had been persuaded to come out by his brother and he was a genuine settler-member of the Thornhill party while William as a half-pay ex military officer, does not appear in the official settlers list.

They spent over three months on the voyage out, in the company of the Thornhill family who were the leaders of the settlers party in the Zoroaster sailing ship in 1820. The leaders of the party, Christopher Thornhill Thornhill, 47, of Thornhill, Yorkshire, left estates in Cumberland and brought with him his wife, Dorothea Mounsey, 35, their two sons, Christopher, 8, and John, 15, and their two daughters , Mary Francis, 10, and Anna Margaret , 13. During the long voyage out both William and Adam had fallen in love with the young Anna and she returned William's affections much to the disappointment of Adam who swore that he would marry the first pretty girl he saw after landing. Transferred, once more, to small boats and rowed ashore, they lived in tents near the beach until wagons, hired from the Dutch farmers in the Zwartkop Valley, arrived and the party was moved from Reed River Post by way of Kowie Pass and Bathurst to it's location between the Kowie and Rufane rivers. William and Anna were married in May 1821 at Bathurst by the Rev. William Shaw and set up home on land which William acquired adjoining the Thornhill property.

They built a house and started farming in 1822 while in that year their first child was born, subsequently followed by 12 more children, all of whom with the exception of one who died in infancy, married and had families of their own. When the Albany Levy was formed in Grahamstown in October 1822, for the self-protection of the settlers, Lieutenant W. F. A. Gilfillan was one of the officers. In 1826 William was granted a farm on the Kariega river, he named it 'Glenfillan'. The house was burned down at the commencement of the 6th Kaffir War in December 1834. In 1837 William was appointed the first Resident Magistrate and Civil Commissioner at Cradock. In the Kaffir War of 1850 William was on the board of Defence and later took the field in command of the Cradock Burghers. In 1852 William was elected Member of the Legislative Assembly for the District. The bridge over the Fish River at Cradock was named the Gilfillan Bridge in his honour and retains the name till this day although a second bridge over the Fish River has recently been opened. William died in 1855 and the inscription on his tombstone in the Cradock Church cemetery reads: Sacred to the memory of William Frederick Anderson Gilfillan born 27-1-1796 died 4-9-1855 The deceased came to this country in 1812 an ensign in the 60th Rifles. Returned to England about 1819 and in 1820 came out as a military settler on half pay. During the war of 1855 he commanded a company of Levies and at it's conclusion was appointed Commandant and Resident Magistrate of Cradock which office he held until his death. and of his widow Anna Margaret Gilfillan (born Thornhill)

Gilfillan Bridge in Cradock was named after him - see extensive notes in DFT Did not come with Thornhills party. Landed in Cape Town from the "Importer", in March 1820 and applied for a grant of land for his Army Service. A Lt. William Glifillan seen in Morse Jones, E. Lower Albany Chronicles. Part 1 1806 - 1825, p14. in 1817 of 60th Regiment 1820 Settler and member of Her Majesty's 60th Rifles and afterwards Civil Commissioner and Resident Magistrate at Cradock. Lived at Thornhill, Port Alfred on the Kariega River, Farm Glenfillan


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Lt. William Frederick Anderson Gilfillan's Timeline

January 27, 1796
Jersey, Channel Islands
November 2, 1822
Age 26
Eastern Cape, South Africa
June 13, 1824
Age 28
Grahamstown, Cape Province, South Africa
August 3, 1826
Age 30
Eastern Cape, South Africa
February 28, 1828
Age 32
Port Francis, Eastern Cape, South Africa
January 19, 1830
Age 33
Middleburg, Eastern Cape, South Africa
January 29, 1832
Age 36
Eastern Cape, South Africa
February 14, 1834
Age 38
Bathurst, Eastern Cape, South Africa
November 1836
Age 40