Recorded as Biggam, Beigham, Begem, Bigham, Bigholms and others, this is a Scottish surname. It is locational from what were known as the "forty shilling lands" of Bigholm in Ayshire and Dumfriesshire. Forty shillings or 2.00 in decimal was the rateable value, and this would have been a very significant amount, possibly around 1000 today. The component elements of the name are the Norse-Viking "bygg" meaning barley, or the possibly the personal name Bekki, meaning large or stout, and the suffix "holm", meaning a small island, or an inland island surrounded by streams. The surname was first recorded in the early part of the 15th century, (see below). Other examples of recordings include John Bygholme noted in the "Register of the Great Seal of Scotland" in 1428, when he was the dean of Edinburgh, and Thomas of Bigholme who was elected Magistrate of Edinburgh in 1456. Other examples from England and Scotland include that on October 18th 1723, of Mary Bigham, who was christened at St. Dunstan's Stepney, in the city of London, whilst on May 5th 1803, Jean, the daughter of James Bigham was christened at Ballantrae, Ayshire, and Margaret Biggam was recorded in Ochiltree, Ayshire, on November 12th 1856. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Bigholme. This was dated 1426, Records of Edinburgh, during the reign of King James 1 of Scotland, 1406 - 1437. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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