Recorded in the spellings of Betheam, Bethum, Beetham and Beatham, this is an English locational surname. It originates from the hamlets known as Higher and Lower Betham near Chard, in the county of Somerset, or perhaps from a now 'lost' medieval village of the same or similar spelling. The meaning is obscure, but it probably descibes 'the home of Bede', with the latter being a famous personal name of the pre7th century, although equally it could mean a bee hive or literally 'the bee's home', or even 'the home by the stream', from the ancient word 'blife'.The hamlet was apparently recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Bethum', which itself was a later surname spelling. Locational surnames were usually 'from' names. That is to say that they were names given to former inhabitants of the a particular place after they moved elsewhere, usually in search of work. As a result with education being non existent for the vast majority of people, and local accents very thick, variant spellings of the original name became the norm. In this case examples of the surname recording taken from the surviving early registers of the diocese of Greater London include:Thomas Betheam, who married Katherine Brooke at St Leonards church, Eastcheap, on November 5th 1586, William Beatham, a witness at St Andrews Holborn, on September 18th 1670, and Thomas Beetham, who married Elizabeth Williams at St James church, Dukes Place, Westminster, on June 8th 1682, in the reign of King Charles 11 of England, 1649 - 1685.
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