At first sight this rare and interesting surname is locational and of English medieval origins, deriving from "churk" meaning a charcoal maker plus the Olde English pre 10th Century "ham", a homestead or hamlet. This would seem to be logical, except that there are no known recordings of either, such a place or a "lost" village or an early surname. Given the importance of charcoal, the base name, as Chark(e) or Shark(e) in its dialectal form, is recorded widely throughout the British Isles, and the name is also found in the habitational forms as Charkley (the enclose of Chark), Charkfield, Charlend (the charcoal maker at the end of the village, as Town(s)end), Charlewood and Charlecombe. Our research suggests that the modern spelling may derive from the latter variant, originating in Devon. However, the spelling as Charkham could also be a derived from of the patronymic "Charksum", one Dorcas Charksum marrying Jeremia Howerd at St. James' Church, Clerkenwell, London, on November 29th 1668, in the reign of Charles 11 (1660 - 1685). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Stephen Chark, which was dated September 9th 1577, marriage to Mary Carnally, at St. Augustine's, Watling Street, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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