This is a surname which is of confused origins. It may be English or it can be Muslim. If English it is usually recorded as Alam, Allam, and Elam, and is a dialectually transposed from a place in Kent now called Elham. In the famous Domesday Book of 1086 it appears as Alham and Aelham. The spellling as Elham being recorded in the charters known collectively as the Index to the Charters and Rolls of the British Museum in 1182. The place name is believed to derive from the Olde English pre 7th century 'ealh' meaning a pagan temple, plus '-ham', a meadow or piece of enclosed land. As a surname the first recording is probably that of Henry de Elham of Kent in 1273. Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homes to move somewhere else. Spelling over the centuries being at best indifferent, and local accents very thick, soon lead to the growth of 'sounds like' surname spellings. If however the origin is Muslim, then the translation and derivation is wholly different. According to the Dictionary of Muslim Names, the name means 'pain' and was given as form of endearment or romantic name which would remind the holder of his actions. The poet and author Dard gave his sons the names Alam (pain), and Athar (result) in the hope that the two quite separate meanings would result in happiness. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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