Lafayette Gill was born in 1852 in Des Moines, Iowa, the eldest of six children. Lafayette’s grandfather, Thomas Gill, had come to the United States from Ireland and fought in the War of 1812. Lafayette’s father, James W. Gill, was a major and served in the Mexican War of 1846—1848.
In 1857, James, his wife, Elizabeth, and their children crossed the plains to California traveling by ox team. They first located in Stockton, California. When the family moved to the northern part of San Diego County, Lafayette’s brother, George, stayed behind in Inyo County, where he eventually became a superior court judge.
Lafayette was home schooled and, in 1880, he began to study for the bar. He was admitted to the bar in San Diego approximately two years later. He started law practice in Elsinore but moved to Riverside in 1893, the same year Riverside County was created. When Riverside County’s first district attorney, John Anderson, died in 1895, Lafayette Gill was appointed to fill his term. He was not elected in his bid for a four-year term of his own in 1898, and returned to private practice with his half-brother Frank E. Densmore. Gill also acquired large tracts of farmland in the Winchester and Menifee areas for the purpose of raising grain and fruit.
He died in Riverside in 1913.