Benjamin Rush Milam William Alexander Milam

Please help to discontinue the propagation and perpetuation of outdated conclusions, false research, and mis-information of the Milam family history.


The following is a general overview of the earliest known history and genealogies of the Milam family.


The name of Milam is a family name of Old English origin. It is believed that the name referred to someone who lived in or near the old Roman town of Mileham in County Norfolk, England. In England the e and h are silent, hence the eventual spelling Milam.


However, words, and names, were not always consistently spelled a certain way, so variants are many and appear often. Usually vowels are the letter most likely to affect the number of variant spellings. Consonants usually could be dropped or doubled. Some examples of variant spellings are as follows:  Milem, Milim, Milom, Milum, Mylam, Mylem, Mylim, Mylom, Mylum, Millam, Millem, Millom, Millum, and many more. Some spellings I've seen that were highly questionable include Milliam, Maylam, Maylem, and more. I've also seen variations of Millem, Mellem, Millham and more. So watch for any number of possible spellings that could still be members of this Milam family in America. In my writings, if I am quoting specifically identified records or resources, I will use the name as it is spelled in the original document referenced. Otherwise I will use the more familiar form of Milam.


Currently, the earliest known Milams to come to America are the brothers John and Humphrey Milam / Mylam who settled in Boston prior to 1635. There is some question as to whether the name is in fact Milam or Mylam, or if in fact the name is actually Maylam, a possibly entirely different surname. Early records list this John and Humphrey as being from Oxfordshire, England. Both men were by trade "Coopers"; builders of barrels. They were members of the now historically famous First Church of Boston. John had 10 children including 7 sons. Humphrey had 7 children, all daughters.

Recent research by a group of Milam historians have discovered that John Milam / Mylam of Boston, and his wife and all of his surviving children migrated and settled in County Waterford, Ireland at some time around 1652. So far, as the research continues, indications are that none of the John Milam / Mylam sons every returned back to America. This would preclude any possibility of the Boston Milams from being the progenitors of the Milam family of Virginia.

For more information about this significant research and discovery, please visit the John Mylam History web page.


At this time, most all Milams in the United States can prove descent from one of two men who are found consistently in Virginia as early as the 1750s and 1760s; though a few earlier cases have also been found. These men are the Milam Patriarchs, John and Thomas. Though it could never be proven through detailed research and documentation, it has always been traditionally believed that John and Thomas were brothers; recent DNA testing has proven this to be factual. For an extensive more detailed explanation of the Milam DNA project, please visit this web page:  Genetic Genealogy of Milam

I. John Milam was traditionally thought to have been born around 1725, however research in the 1990s was able to establish a more probable birth year of no later than 1718. Now, recent research by Dr. William Milam of Richmond (2018) has determined that he most likely was born before 1713. He is known to have married a woman named Judith, possibly Bartlett, as early as 1739. While traditionally she had been referred to as Judith Bartlett Cole, Cole has been dropped by current Milam researchers as this name is extremely unlikely. Meanwhile, the maiden name Bartlett is not proven, but is supported by the frequent use of that name as a Given name or Middle name in the Milam descendants of John and Judith.  It was always believed that John Milam may have lived in Louisa County, Virginia due to the reference to him and his land in the 1757 Will of John Dixon of Bristol. However, there is no documentation of any nature in Louisa County records to support this belief. Meanwhile, a reevaluation of the 1757 Will of John Dixon determined that the land may have actually been in Hanover County. Unfortunately, all Court records for Hanover County, Virginia, including Deeds and Wills, prior to the Civil War were completely destroyed in the burning of Richmond in 1865. Meanwhile, he has recently been discovered in Brunswick County, Virginia Court records as early as 1752, as well as in Chesterfield County, Virginia records in about 1760. In 1764 he is found in Halifax County, Virginia where he lived until sometime after 1782, but before 1785, when he then migrated to York County, South Carolina where he died and left a will in 1789. John was a soldier of the Revolutionary War. John and Judith had 10 children. For a more detailed explanation and accounting of John Milam "the Patriarch" in early Virginia records, please visit this webpage: John Milam Sr (ca 1713 - 1789) Early History

II. Thomas Milam was born before 1716 and married Mary Rush no later than 1739. Though traditionally referred to as Mary Rush Adams, there is no indication she was every previously married, let alone a member of the Adams family. Her connection to the Rush family of early Virginia is now well established: The William Rush Family of Westmoreland County, VA   Early records find Thomas Milam "the Patriarch" living on the north side of Doubletop Mountain near a Gap that takes it's name from him; Milam's Gap. It is also believe that he is the namesake of the Milam Apple which either grew wild near his home or he uniquely cultivated. Earlier, his land was part of Orange County, Virginia, where he is found in a 1737 Court record. In 1749 his lands became part of the newly created Culpeper County. Thomas sold this land in Culpeper County in 1760 and in 1761 migrated to Bedford County, Virginia where he died and left a will in 1775. Thomas and Mary had 7 children. For a more detailed accounting of Thomas Milam "the Patriarch" in early Virginia records, please visit this webpage: Thomas Milam of Colonial Virginia (ca 1716 - 1775)


There has always been a long standing tradition (a Milam family tradition of over 100 plus years) that the 'three' Milam brothers, Thomas, John and Archibald, were the sons of Samuel Mileham and Martha Gardner, who were married 1724 in Lancaster County, Virginia. Documentary evidence to support this tradition has been extensively and thoroughly researched for verification for over 50 years. As a result, this 'tradition' has been been absolutely and completely proven as false. Thomas and John have been proven to have been born long before the marriage of Samuel Mileham and Martha Gardner, while additionally Archibald has been proven to have never existed. For more information about these new conclusions, click here for the discussion Major Change in the Virginia Milams originally written in the January-February 1994 issue of Milam Roots.

Much of this old belief was based upon poor memory, incomplete information, inadequate research and false data, combined with an overly-zealous effort to make things ‘fit’ by the early Milam researchers of the late 1800s through 1930s. [see Milam Research History]

Unfortunately, despite exhaustive, extensive, thorough and detailed research by many Milam family historians over the last 25 plus years, the identity of the parents of the Milam brothers has continued to be elusive. Milams have been extremely difficult to locate and identify in earlier Virginia and Maryland records, and those few that might have been found have not clearly been connected to the Virginia Milam brothers.

The popularly theorized Boston connection that had been vigorously pursued for over 15 years uncovered extensive valuable information, but had failed to provide the substantial proof necessary. In fact, by 2008 the most significant discovery that had been made is that the John Mylam who arrived in Boston prior to 1635 and married, raised a family, and achieved great success there, had removed himself and his entire family to Ireland in 1652, thus eliminating all the male Mylams in Boston after that point. This virtually negated the possibility of the Virginia connection to the Boston Mylams. For more information about this significant research and discovery, please visit the John Mylam History web page.

Meanwhile, do be sure to visit the various websites referred to and linked to from throughout this website and review their research and discussions. Most notably, be sure to visit the website of the Milam Family Historical Society, and the very well researched website Milam in Virginia by Dr. Willam F. Milam of Richmond, Virginia; I can't praise this site enough.

Please help to discontinue the propagation and perpetuation of outdated conclusions, false research, and mis-information of the Milam family history.

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