This interesting Anglo-Saxon name of locational origin is derived from the various places of the same name in Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Suffolk (near Ipswich) and Kent, (near Canterbury). Early forms of the placename appear as "Bercheham" (in the Domesday Book 1086, for Cambridgeshire), "Bercheham" (in the Assize Rolls of Huntingdonshire 1260) and "Bercham" (the Domesday Book of Suffolk 1086). The name is composed of the old English Word "beorg" - hill and "ham" - homestead. Hence "the homestead on the hill". The Kent name, gets its first element from the old English byname "Biora", "Beora" - bear. The first recording of the name as a surname appears in the late 13th Century (see below). Variations of the surname include Bareham, Barhams, Barhems, Bearham, and Barhims. Nicholas Barham was M.P. for Maidstone in 1573 and conducted the prosecution of the Duke of Norfolk for conspiring with Mary, Queen of Scots against Elizabeth 1 and of the Dukes secretary, Higford, he died of gaol fever in 1577. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry de Berham, which was dated 1292, in the Suffolk County Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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