This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the various places named with the Olde English pre 7th Century "aesc", ash (tree), with "ham", settlement, homestead. These places include Askham in Nottinghamshire and in the West Riding of Yorkshire, recorded respectively as "Ascam" and "Asc(h)am" in the Domesday Book of 1086. Askham in Westmorland, appearing as "Askum" in the 1232 Patent Rolls of that county, is so called from the Olde English "aescum", or the Old Scandinavian "askum", the dative plural of "aesc", "the ash-trees". Early examples of the surname include: Avice de Askum, (Westmorland, 1292); John de Askham in the "Register of the Freemen of the City of York", dated 1290, and Thomas de Askam in the 1379 Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire. Locational surnames were developed when the former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. Regional and dialectal differences subsequently produced variations in the spelling of the name which in the modern idiom appears as Askam, Askem, Askham and Ascham. On February 6th 1608, Elizabeth Askem married Thomas Dawson at Kippax, Yorkshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Conan de Aschann, which was dated 1201, in the "Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199-1216. 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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