This very interesting name, widespread in the Suffolk region, is probably a variant of "Canham" which itself derives from "Cavenham", an English habitational name from a place of the same name in Suffolk. The placename itself, recorded "Canauatham" and "Kanauaham" in the Domesday Book of 1086. It is composed of the personal name "Cafa" which derived from the Old English "caf", meaning "bold, active", plus the second element, the Old English "edisc", an enclosure or pasture; hence placenames became a major factor in surname formation from the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job seeking was becoming more common with people often taking their former village name as a means of identification.Robtus, son of Robti Cannam, was christened at Glemsford, Suffolk on April 19th 1553, while one Richardus Cannam married Margaretam Rowse on September 19th 1563, at Westhall, Suffolk. At St. Martin-le-Grand Liberty, London, Gertrude Conham married one Richard Halsie on May 13th 1575. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry de Cauenham, which was dated 1327, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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