This is an Anglo-Saxon name of either topographical or locational origin. If the latter, the surname derives from either of the places called "Southam" in Gloucestershire and in Warwickshire. The places are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Surham" and "Sucham" respectively and share the same meaning and derivation which is "the southern settlement or farm", derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "suth", south and "ham" homestead, farm or settlement. As a topographical surname "Southam" or its variant form "Sotham" denotes residence at such a place or "to the south of the village".Ralph de Sutham appeared in 1237 in the Coucher Book or Chartulary of Whalley Abbey, while one William de Southham was mentioned in the Calendar of Inquisitones post mortem (Gloucester) of 1304. One John de Southam was recorded as Rector of West Walton, in Norfolk, in 1388. A Coat of Arms was granted to a family called Southam, which depicts three green bars on a silver shield and a Crest which consists of a thistle and rose in saltire proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas de Suham, which was dated 1199, in the "Records of Pleas before the King, Northamptonshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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